An armed conflict between an ethnic insurgent group and Bangladesh’s paramilitary force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), has triggered an influx of refugees from the Chittagong Hills Tracts (CHT) to India’s Mizoram state.
More than 250 people from the Kuki-Chin communities from CHT have arrived in Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district. Earlier this week, the state government decided to offer food and shelter to the refugees.
The latest influx would increase the refugee burden on the northeastern state, which has been hosting more than 30,000 people from Myanmar since the February 2021 military coup in the neighbouring country. The state government has also issued temporary identity cards and provided humanitarian assistance to these refugees.

The Kuki-Chin communities in the Muslim-dominated country share ethnic ties with the Mizos in India and many of them have relatives in Mizoram. In Mizoram, all the ethnic Zo people are known under a ‘Mizo’ nomenclature while in Manipur they are referred to as ‘Kuki’. They are known as ‘Chin’ or Zomi or Laimi in Myanmar.
Mizoram shares a 318-km-long international border with Bangladesh while its border with Myanmar is 510 km.
According to government officials, at least 272 people from Bangladesh’s CHT region had on November 20 entered Simeinasora village near the Mizoram-Bangladesh-Myanmar tri-junction following clashes between RAB and Kuki-Chin National Army (KNA).
The latter is the armed wing of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), whose aim is to fight for an autonomous state comprising areas from Rangamati and Bandarban in Bangladesh’s CHT and safeguard the interests of the community.
CHT, home to nearly a dozen ethnic groups – mostly Buddhists and Christians — is one of the most restive regions in Bangladesh. The region witnessed a 20-year-long armed separatist movement spearheaded by the Jana Samhati Samiti (JSS) which resulted in the signing of a peace accord in 1997.

The KNF came to limelight following its social media post claiming responsibility for the killings of three villagers on June 21 this year, Bangladeshi news portal bdnews24.com reported.
Zo Reunification Organisation (ZORO), a Mizoram-based association fighting for the re-unification of Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribes of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, had claimed last week that Bangladeshi security forces have “entered into a secret pact with Myanmar-based Arakan Army to launch joint operations against KNA” in the CHT region, a claim which could not be independently verified.
An ethnic revolutionary group, the Arakan Army (AA) was formed in 2006 to fight for greater autonomy for the people of Rakhine state in Myanmar.
Meanwhile, the Young Mizo Association (YMA), the largest civil society organisation in Mizoram, said it would provide humanitarian assistance to the ethnic Kuki-Chin people from Bangladesh who have taken shelter in the state.
YMA is the largest civil society organisation in Mizoram having nearly 5 lakh members in and outside the state.
With inputs from agencies




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By Bhushan K

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