AIZAWL, Oct 22 – The Joint Action Committee of Vaphai, on the Indo-Burmese border in Champhai district today issued a deadline asking Mynmarese foreigners settled on their land to leave before October 31 or face eviction.
In what looks like a sheer case of border mismanagement by the authorities, beleaguered border residents have decided to take matters into their own hands.
The JAC has asked all Indian citizens to shift to other locations already earmarked for their rehabilitation by the Vaphai village council.
The Council has issued an eviction notice to the Mynamarese settlers, constituting 21 families, to leave the locality of Saikhumphai. This order was also issued by the Local Administration Department of the Government of Mizoram in February 2011.
These 41 Indian families are also allegedly doubtful citizens as it is an open secret that their names appeared in 2011 electoral rolls helped by politicians seeking votes.
The chairman of the JAC, C Zakanglova told a press conference at the capital today that the deadline was issued as the village had come under the control of foreigners who had been sheltered as neighbours at Saikhumphaibawk. They have asked for partition of the village lands under a separate Village Council seeking control of Vaphai’s most fertile and best lands on the banks of the river Tiau.
The JAC chairman also said the sensitive border hamlet has now become a free-way for Burmese traders, soldiers, and a hotbed of drug and arms smuggling.
Indian citizens of Vaphai can hardly tend to their own jhum fields or fish in the rivers as the foreigners have no qualms about using armed intimidation, he said. He also said that the foreigners have deforested the best forests as the locals could not guard against their plunder.
The JAC said that the locality had grown as a temporary shelter for wage labourers from the other side of the border working for Vaphai citizens since 1987.
“As long as they were peacefully living as good citizens of our village we sheltered them because though they are foreigners from Myanmar we consider them our own kins looking for some livelihood on Indian soil. But if they are playing a land-grabbing game then we will not allow this to happen,” said members of the JAC.
He rued that these foreigners, had claimed that their rights were being violated. “It is in fact the opposite. It is our human rights that is being violated by foreigners who are grabbing our land and creating a conflict in our peaceful land,” Zakanglova said adding “They are not refugees as they claim but economic migrants,” he said.