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Manipur permits safe passage to “stranded Myanmar refugees”

On Monday, the High Court of Manipur arranged protected entrance to seven Myanmar nationals, abandoned at a boundary town in Manipur, to travel to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi. It is discovered that three of the seven Myanmar nationals are journalists serving with Mizzima News, while the rest are their relatives.

The order was published by a division bench including Chief Justice Sanjaykumar and Justice Lanusungkum Jamir, in rejoinder to a petition filed by one Nandita Haksar. The petitioner reached the court to enact an order for a safe way to the seven Myanmar nationals to ask security from UNHCR.“They fled the country of their origin under imminent threat to their lives and liberty. In such a situation, insisting that they first answer for admitted violations of our domestic laws…would be palpably inhuman,” the bench observed.In the progression of the trial, the bench remarked that though India has no obvious refugee security policy or structure, it does give shelter to a large number of refugees from the adjacent country. It also perceived that India normally regards UNHCR’s recognition of the state of such asylum seekers, principally from Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Exemplifying this, the court remarked that the seven in question are not ‘migrants’, as commonly perceived, but are ‘asylum seekers.“They did not access our nation with the clear-cut and purposeful plan of breaking and infringing our domestic orders. They left the nation of their origin under immediate peril to their lives and freedom. They strive for comfort under International Conventions that were put in place to offer security and rehabilitation to refugees/asylum seekers. In such a condition, asserting that the first answer for confirmed infringements of our domestic laws, as a condition precedent for seeking ‘refugee’ status, would be palpably inhuman,” the bench observed.

In his dispute, S Suresh, Assistant Solicitor General, called the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946; the Foreigners Order, 1948; and the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939; in support of his assertion that these seven persons, who admittedly invaded the country illegally, should first meet the outcomes of their illegal acts. The council also stated that the Constitutional freedoms available under Article 19 are restricted to citizens and these seven persons cannot demand such freedoms under Articles 19(1)(d) and 19 (1)(e), concerning moving unobstructedly or settling in any part of the province of India.

The petitioner stated that after a military move in the neighboring nation in February, the military junta barred Mizzima news and detained several journalists. The journalists, with their families, escaped their country. They entered India and have taken shelter at the Moreh border in the Tengnoupal district of Manipur. The petitioner stated that the Myanmar nationals worried they would be transferred back by the Assam Rifles, as they had arrived without proper travel documents. Earlier in March, the Ministry of Home Affairs had informed the officials of the boundary states in the North-East and the Assam Rifles to control the flow of illegal migrants from Myanmar in the wake of the coup.

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