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‘Can’t go back to Myanmar, Army won’t let us live,’ say refugees

Monitor News Bureau

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Lawngtlai:Around 300 refugees, mostly Arakan (Rakhine) Buddhists, who fled Myanmar in November last year following the military crackdown on the Arakan rebels, have refused to go back despite the Mizoram government having stopped supplies of essential food items to them in February.
“The Myanmar Army will not let us live and earn if we go back,” said Khima-U, who hails from the border village of Varang in Myanmar’s Chin State.
The 46-year-old was one of the nearly 1,400 refugees who had originally taken shelter in four border villages in Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district — Laitlang, Hmawngbuchhua, Zochachhua, and Dumzautlang. More than 900 refugees have since returned to their homes, according to officials.
While the Hmangbuchhua village council claims there are 343 refugees still living there, an official of Assam Rifles said there are only 298 refugees left.
Khima-U, among the many refugees who constructed bamboo houses since moving into this village 4km away from the border in Lawngtlai district, about 300km south of Aizawl, says “life is better here”.
He works as a daily wager by helping villagers in jhum (shifting) cultivation, earning Rs 150 a day.
Some others have joined the work as daily wagers on the 87km road connecting Lawngtlai town and Zorinpui, a proposed border crossing points with Myanmar part of the ambitious Kaladan multi-modal transport project.
“They (the refugees) came in speed boats,” said Chemgsa-U, president of the Hmangbuchhua village council, pointing to the Sekulh Lui river which flows along the village.
“They are of the same tribe as us. They are Rakhine people like us,” he said, while narrating how the villagers could hear gunshots from the fighting across the border.
The fighting has since stopped but the refugees are refusing to go, something the local Lais, the dominant community of the Lai Autonomous District Council, have become wary of.
“We do not want them to live here forever. They should go back,” said J Sangahangpuia, president of Central Young Lai Association, an NGO.
“Moreover, they follow a different religion, which could lead to conflicts in the future.”
Most Lais follow Christianity and speak Mizo or the Lai dialect while the group of refugees speak Rakhine.
“We gave them hospitality for we don’t want bad relations with the Arakan people. The success of the Kaladan project depends on the cooperation from the Arakan people,” he says.
Chemgsa-U admitted to the villagers’ reluctance, saying that arranging food for the refugees has become a problem.
Some are also suspicious. “Many of them could be Arakan Army fighters,” said J Sangahangpuia. A Lai leader showed HT a WhatsApp conversation with someone who identified himself as a central committee member of the Arakan Army.
The conversation, whose authenticity couldn’t verify, shows an Arakan Army leader urging to stop the district administration from sending back the refugees.


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National

31 dead, over 20 lakh affected as flood wreaks havoc in 12 districts of Bihar

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PATNA: At least 31 people have died and over 20 lakh people have been affected due to flood which has has wreaked havoc in northern districts of Bihar. The flood has forced scores of people to abandon their submerged homes and run for safety, even as water levels of rivers in the area continue to rise.

The worst-affected districts are Araria, Kishanganj, Supaul, Darbhanga, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, East Champaran, Madhubani, and Muzaffarpur. A total of 10 people have died in Sitamarhi, 11 in Araria, four in Kishanganj, two in Madhubani, and one each in Sheohar and Darbhanga due to flood.

The Principal Secretary of Disaster Management Department, Pratyaya Amrit, said that the flood has affected 64 blocks in 12 districts across North Bihar. He added that several roads have broken due to flood which is making it tough for the administration to provide relief materials to the flood-hit people. He said that the government is running 350 community kitchens to provide food to the affected people.

 

State Water Resources Department spokesman Arvind Kumar Singh on Monday said the Bagmati, Kamala and Mahanandra rivers are flowing over the danger mark at various places. Government sources that 13 teams of National Disaster Relief Force and State Disaster Relief Force have been deployed to carry out relief and rescue operations in the affected districts.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday convened a meeting to review the flood situation and he also conducted the aerial survey of flood-affected areas of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sheohar, Sitamarhi and East Champaran districts to review the situation.

Water Resources Minister Sanjay Jha, Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Water Resources department) Arun Kumar and Disaster Management Department Principal Secretary Pratyaya Amrit accompanied Kumar during the aerial survey. During the meeting, the Bihar chief minister instructed the government officials to remain on high alert and ensure that flood-hit people are getting proper facilities at the camps set up by the state government.

Several control rooms have been set by the state government in affected districts to help the people who are affected by the flood.

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha has slammed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, terming the aerial survey as an annual show of pretence. He said that instead of reviewing the situation by sitting in an aircraft, the chief minister should take measures to ensure that the situation does not get repeated. Kushwaha further alleged that the funds meant for such work were embezzled and the government had failed in its duty to ensure that people did not get affected by floods.

It is feared that the situation would remain grim for few more days as Patna Meteorological Centre has forecast rain with thunderstorm at several places in the state in the next four days.

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Deported from UAE in terror case, 14 men flown to Chennai by NIA

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New Delhi: Fourteen persons, deported from the United Arab Emirates and apprehended by the National Investigation Agency for suspected association with men linked to an alleged terror outfit, were flown from New Delhi to Chennai on a special flight.

It is learnt that the men were produced before a NIA court which granted their custody to the agency. Sources claimed that the men — they were said to be from Chennai, Tirunelveli, Theni, Nagapattinam and Ramanathapuram — were members of Wahdat-e-Islami Hind, a religious organisation in Tamil Nadu.

They were deported after intelligence agencies received credible inputs that they had been in touch with individuals in Tamil Nadu who have now been placed under arrest by the NIA for suspected links to alleged terror outfit Ansarulla.

 

On Saturday, the NIA searched premises linked to three individuals in connection with its probe into activities of Ansarulla. One among them was Chennai resident Syed Bukhari, president of the Wahdat-e-Islami Hind. On Sunday, the NIA arrested two of the three individuals — Hassan Ali

Yunusmaricar and Harish Mohammed, both from Nagapattinam — “based on incriminating facts revealed during searches and subsequent investigations”. Along with Bukhari, the two men are already accused in a NIA case registered on July 9 against Ansarulla.

The Wahdat-e-Islami Hind has maintained it is a religious organisation with no connection to radical Islam. Established in 2009 in Chennai as a religious organisation, it had earlier denied links to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

While booking Bukhari and his associates, the NIA, in a statement, said they had been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act “based on credible information received that the accused persons, while being within and beyond India, had conspired and conducted consequent preparations to wage war against the Government of India by forming the terrorist gang Ansarulla”.

The NIA claimed that it had “learnt that the accused persons and their associates had collected funds and made preparations to carry out terrorist attacks in India, with the intention of establishing Islamic rule in India”.

During the searches Saturday, the NIA claimed to have seized nine mobile phones,15 SIM cards, seven memory cards, three laptops, five hard disks, six pen drives, two tablets and three CDs/DVDs besides documents including magazines, banners, notices, posters and books.

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If Navjot does not want to do his job, there’s nothing I can do: Amarinder

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New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh took a jibe at Navjot Singh Sidhu and said that if he was unwilling to discharge his duties as a minister, there was nothing he could do about it.

The Punjab chief minister asserted that Sidhu was given a new portfolio after much deliberation and instead of accepting his new portfolio, he decided to shun the work in the middle of the crucial paddy season.

“If Sidhu doesn’t want to do the job, there is nothing I can do about it,” said Captain Amarinder, questioning how a soldier could refuse a job assigned by the General. There has to be some discipline in the government if it is to function effectively, added Amarinder Singh.

 

Asked if Sidhu had got in touch with him to resolve the issues, the Punjab CM said there was no need for it. “I do not have any issues with him. If Sidhu has any issues with me, you’ll have to ask him about them,” he added.

Singh, however, noted that he did not see any harm in Sidhu’s decision to send his resignation papers to the Congress president. The cabinet was decided in consultation with the Congress high command so there was nothing wrong in Sidhu’s decision to send his resignation to the party president, said the Chief Minister. He was talking informally to reporters at Parliament House after a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Punjab chief minister said that he came to meet PM Modi since he had not met him so far during the latter’s second term. However, he took the opportunity to discuss the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji. The prime minister confirmed his participation in the mega event and assured of all possible help to make the programme a grand success, befitting the historic occasion, said Singh.

The legacy issue of the Rs 31,000 crore food debt also came up for discussion and the prime minister said that he was aware of the matter, said Punjab CM.

The Punjab CM said that the portfolios of 13 of the 17 ministers in his cabinet were reshuffled after the recently held Lok Sabha election and Sidhu was the only member who had problems with his new portfolio. The reshuffle was decided on the basis of the performance of the ministers and Sidhu should have accepted his new department, he stressed.

It is to be noted that Sidhu was given the crucial Power Ministry after the reshuffle and according to Singh the portfolio was particularly important at this time in view of the paddy season, from June to October. With many parts of Punjab not receiving adequate rainfall, the power situation was critical, requiring day to the day monitoring, said the Chief Minister, adding that he was himself doing this job now.

Singh said that he was unhappy with the statements made by Sidhu and his wife regarding the latter’s candidature for the parliamentary elections. He clarified that he had never opposed Sidhu’s wife’s candidature and had suggested she should contest from Bathinda but the couple rejected the offer.

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