GUWAHATI: Altogether 272 Chin-Kuki people fled to Mizoram's Lawngtlai district from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh in the face of an alleged offensive by the Bangladesh Army against an armed group of the community.
The influx comes at a time when the Mizoram government is grappling with over 30000 refugees from Myanmar. They had fled their hearths and homes in the aftermath of the coup by the military of that country in February last year.
The Chin-Kuki people and the Mizos belong to the Zo community and they share the same culture and ancestry.
A senior official in Lawngtlai told The New Indian Express the refugees had entered the district on Sunday evening.
"Altogether 272 people arrived. The locals are providing them with food and necessary items. The state government is looking into the matter," the official said requesting not to be named.
The Bangladesh Refugee Committee in Mizoram said these Bangladeshi nationals had entered Bonduk-bangsora, a village located near the tri-junction of Bangladesh, Myanmar and Mizoram and moved to a nearby village, Simeinasora, on Monday morning.
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Khuma Bawm, a member of the committee, said they wanted to proceed to another village, Parva, but the Border Security Force did not allow them to do so. The refugees are mostly women, children and elderly people.
Bawm said trouble was brewing in the Chittagong Hill Tracts for a long time over the Chin-Kuki community's movement for autonomy, spearheaded by the Bangladesh-based insurgent group Kuki-Chin National Army (KNA), also called Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF).
He alleged the Bangladesh Army was taking the help of Myanmar's largest extremist group Arakan Army in the offensive.
"The minority Kuki-Chin community has a population of around 3.5 lakh in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The KNA is locked in a conflict with the Bangladesh Army. So, the Bangladesh Army secretly aligned with the Arakan Army and launched the offensive. They attacked Kuki-Chin villages, tortured innocent people and raped women and girls," Bawm alleged.
"The Bangladesh Army took the help of Arakan Army as our hilly brothers are good fighters," he claimed.
He also said that in the face of the joint offensive, a lot of others also fled the Chittagong Hill Tracts and were on their way to Mizoram. They are in the jungles and will arrive tomorrow or the day after, he said.
"We need to support the refugees. They are in need of food, clothing and shelter. We formed the committee to help the people. Five of us are heading to the village from Aizawl," he added.
The KNF in a statement claimed that a secret meeting was held between senior officers of the Arakan Army and Bangladesh Army, DGFI, BGB at Tamra on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
"They decided that the KNF should be dispersed from the soil of this country (Bangladesh) through the Arakan Army and the Bangladesh government will pay it 10 million taka," the statement said.