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Mizoram yet to start collection of biometric data from Myanmar refugees

 Aizawl: Mizoram state government is yet to commence collection of biographic and biometric data of all the refugees from Myanmar, taking shelter in the state, despite instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs, a senior state home department official said on Monday.

Joint Secretary-cum-OSD of the state home department David H. Lalthangliana said that the instruction from the MHA is yet to be undertaken as the format prepared by the Ministry has to be altered to suit collection of data from the Myanmar nationals.

“The issue has been recently discussed with Joint Secretary (Foreigners), MHA Anil Malik during which it was found that the format should be changed to suit the collection of data for the Myanmar refugees,” Lalthangliana said, adding that training of the deputy commissioners and superintendents of Police was conducted on Friday and Saturday in the presence of Malik.

Recommendations of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) are awaited for final approval, he said, adding that they will be able to go ahead only after the final approval of the MHA.

“The central government is taking up the task as a pilot project in Mizoram as it is impossible to undertake the process in Manipur due to the current turbulence in the neighboring state,” he said.

He added that it may be impossible to meet the deadline, which is end of September, due to the technical snags.

Home department officials said that all the Myanmar refugees taking refuge in the state due to turmoil in the neighboring country following military coup d’etat on February 21, 2021 have been profiled and temporary identity cards have already been issued.

“We do not know whether the MHA instructions on collection of biographic and biometric data of the Myanmar refugees have any connection with the allegations of the presence of large number of illegal immigrants in Manipur by the BJP government of the neighboring state,” the officials said.

They added that the refugees from Myanmar are not illegal immigrants, but Mizo kindred brothers and sisters in adjoining Chin state, displaced by the crackdown on anti-coup protesters by the military junta.

Meanwhile, Mara Thyutlia Py (MTP) or Young Mara association, the largest civil society in south Mizoram’s Siaha district, had been collecting bio-data from the Myanmar refugees in Siaha town. 

Sources in the relief camps in Siaha town said that they have been asked to give their details to the MTP office including name, parent’s names, passport photo, and other details as well as fingerprints, and other biometric data.

Home department officials said that the exercise was undertaken by the MTP after being asked by a paramilitary force deployed in the state without informing the deputy commissioner of Siaha district. 

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Zoram Chronicle