The personnel were flown to the border town of Moreh in Manipur, from where they moved into Myanmar by crossing the ‘friendship bridge’
GUWAHATI: India on Tuesday safely evacuated 39 fleeing Myanmar Army personnel back to the military-ruled country. The personnel, including two officers, had fled an intense gun battle with some ethnic armed groups in the Chin State of India’s neighbouring country and taken refuge in Champhai district of Mizoram.
Indian defence sources said the personnel were flown to the border town of Moreh in Manipur from the Hnahlan helipad in Champhai. After landing in Moreh, they were moved into Myanmar by crossing the ‘friendship bridge’. Tamu is the nearest town in Myanmar from the crossing.
“Two Mi-17 helicopters were used to transport them. We were told two-three others entered Mizoram today (from Myanmar). They will be evacuated in a similar manner,” a defence official told this newspaper.
After the personnel had entered the Champhai district, the Mizoram police took their custody and kept them at the Zokhawthar police station. A mob, believed to be refugees from Myanmar, had gathered outside the police station on Monday evening. Later, the personnel were handed over to Assam Rifles.
A fierce gunbattle erupted at Khawmawi in Myanmar on Sunday evening after the armed groups — Kuki Independent Army, Chin National Army and Chinland Defence Force — overran a Myanmar Army camp in a joint attack. The place is close to Zokhawthar.
In the wake of the fighting, over 1,500 Chin refugees, including 16 who were injured, fled to Mizoram. Later, one, who was shot in the eye, succumbed to his injuries.
Meanwhile, according to reports, the number of refugees went past 5,000 by Tuesday. They are taking shelter in some schools, community halls etc. The administration, NGOs and villagers are helping them with food and clothing.
The trouble in Myanmar began in February 2021 after the military in the country had captured power through a coup. The pro-democracy forces are waging an armed struggle with the Myanmarese junta.
Ever since the violence broke out, there has been a steady influx of Chin refugees into Mizoram. In the past two and half years, more than 37,000 refugees fled to the north-eastern Indian state. Chins and Mizos are ethnic cousins, belonging to the Zo community.