STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

We defied orders to kill protesters, say fleeing Myanmar cops who escaped to India

Indian villagers in Mizoram have given shelter to 34 police personnel and one firefighter who crossed into India over the last two weeks.

Published: 20th March 2021 08:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2021 08:37 AM   |  A+A-

Police officers who fled Myanmar following a military coup display the three-finger salute at an undisclosed location in Mizoram. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

AIZAWL: A group of police officers who defied the Myanmar army's orders to shoot opponents of the coup recounted their experience after they escaped to India.

While speaking, they raised a three-finger salute, a symbol of resistance to Myanmar's military rulers.

"We cannot hurt our people, that's why we came to Mizoram," said one of the men, who hails from the northwestern town of Tedim.

Mizoram state in India's northeast shares a border with Bangladesh and Myanmar.

After the army coup, the police were ordered to "shoot people and not just the people, we were told to shoot our own family if they are not on the side of the army," he said.

The Associated Press has not been able to independently verify their claims, though images and accounts of the security forces' crackdown inside Myanmar have shown intensifying violence against civilians.

Indian villagers in Mizoram have given shelter to 34 police personnel and one firefighter who crossed into India over the last two weeks.

They spoke to an AP photojournalist on condition of anonymity because of fears of retribution against family members still in Myanmar.

Back in Myanmar, the three-finger salute, which traces its origins to the Hunger Games books and movies by Suzanne Collins, is being used by youth protesters at massive anti-army demonstrations.

Meanwhile, K. Vanlalvena, a lawmaker from Mizoram state, urged the Indian government not to deport refugees from Myanmar until the return of normalcy there.

The lawmaker belongs to the Mizo National Front, an ally of India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party.

Those who escaped spend their time watching television and doing chores.

Some have carried mobile phones and are trying to connect to families they were forced to leave behind.

At night, all of them sleep on mattresses on the floor of a single room.

ALSO READ | BBC Burmese correspondent, another journalist detained as Myanmar junta clamps down on press

One of them told the AP that they were under the command of Myanmar's army.

"We are all policemen working under the Myanmar government. We left our family in Myanmar. We do not know what is happening to our family, but they will face a lot of problems from the army. We came to Mizoram for shelter, we will die if we go back there," he said.

"We cannot reach our parents due to telecommunication problems, but what we heard is they are very scared to go out of their homes. I'm hoping that one day we will meet again," he added.

Earlier this month, Myanmar asked India to return the police officers who crossed the border.

India shares a 1,643-kilometer (1,020-mile) border with Myanmar, and is home to thousands of refugees from Myanmar in different states.

Last week, Ramliana, president of a Village Council in Mizoram state, a community-based body, said 116 Myanmar nationals crossed the Tiau River and reached Farkawn Village through a stretch where India's paramilitary Assam Rifles personnel were not present.

He uses one name.

India's state and federal government officials haven't given an exact number of people from Myanmar who have crossed over to India after the coup.

Last week, India's Home Ministry told four Indian states bordering Myanmar, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, to take measures to prevent refugees from entering India except on humanitarian grounds.

ALSO READ | Myanmar protests: Junta crackdown on anti-coup dissent triggers exodus from Yangon

The ministry said the states were not authorized to accord refugee status to anyone entering India from Myanmar, as India is not a signatory to the U.N. Refugee Convention of 1951 or its 1967 Protocol.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military for most of its history since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.

A gradual move toward democracy in the past decade allowed Aung San Suu Kyi to lead a civilian government beginning in 2016, although the country's generals retained substantial power under a military-drafted constitution.

Her party won last November's election by a landslide, but the military stepped in before Parliament was to convene on Feb.1, detained Suu Kyi and other government officials and instituted a state of emergency, alleging the vote was tainted by fraud.

Verified tallies show more than 200 people have been killed by security forces in Myanmar since the coup.

They have used live fire and rubber bullets against protesters and some detainees have died in custody.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp