29 Myanmar soldiers stranded in Mizoram as bad weather hampers their repatriation

Inclement weather since Friday has become an obstacle in evacuating 29 Myanmar soldiers, who sought refuge in Mizoram on Thursday after their military camp in the neighbouring country was captured by anti-government forces, an official said on Saturday.

An official said that despite attempts by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday as well as on Saturday to air-lift them, bad weather conditions in Mizoram acted as an impediment.

Due to cyclonic storm “Midhili” triggered by a deep depression over the Bay of Bengal, various northeastern states, including Mizoram, on Friday witnessed moderate to heavy rainfall which impacted normal life.

The sky was very cloudy on Saturday.

“The bad weather prevented the IAF helicopter from flying with the Myanmar soldiers. On Sunday, weather conditions are expected to be favourable and then the Myanmar army men will be evacuated,” an official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

Mizoram’s Inspector General of Police, Headquarters, Lalbiakthanga Khiangte said that on Thursday evening,

29 more Myanmar soldiers, including a major and a captain fled to Mizoram’s Champhai district after their camp at Tuibual in Chin state captured by the civilian armed forces. “The Myanmar Army soldiers approached the police and we handed them over to the Assam Rifles. They are now under the custody of the para-military force and staying at the Vaphai Assam Rifles camp,” Khiangte told IANS.

The Myanmar soldiers had fled their camp at Tuibual in Chin state, near the India-Myanmar border along Mizoram, after it was captured by the Chin National Defence Force (CNDF), the armed wing of the Chin National Organisation (CNO).

The soldiers crossed the Tiau river to enter Mizoram and sought shelter in Indian territory.

Tiau river serves the boundary between India and Myanmar.

Earlier on November 13, forty-five Myanmar soldiers, including officers, had fled to Mizoram after the CNDF took control of two military bases in Myanmar’s Chin state and subsequently were airlifted by IAF helicopters to Manipur’s Moreh town and they were handed over to Myanmar’s military government the next day.

Besides soldiers, around 1,400 Myanmarese, including women and children, took shelter in Mizoram’s Champhai earlier this week following the gunfight between the Army and CNDF cadres.

The district administration has provided food and relief materials to the refugees. Necessary medical aid was also given to those hapless evacuees.

The first influx from Myanmar happened in February 2021 after the Military junta seized power.

Since then, 32,000 people including women and children from Myanmar have taken shelter in the northeastern state. A majority of the refugees live in relief camps and government buildings, while many others are accommodated by their relatives and a large number of people of Myanmar have been staying in rented houses.

Mizoram’s six districts — Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual — share a 510-km-long unfenced and mountainous border with Myanmar’s Chin state.

The Assam Rifles, which guarding the unfenced 1,643-km India-Myanmar border has stepped up its vigilance along the frontier.

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