Why Mizoram is providing temporary shelter to Bangladeshi tribals

The tribal population of Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh has ethnic links with tribal populations in areas of India, mainly Mizoram.

A meeting of the Mizoram Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Tuesday (November 22) expressed sympathy for the refugees, who belong to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo communities, and resolved to give “temporary shelter, food and other relief as per convenience of the state government”, a PTI report from Aizawl said, quoting Home Minister Lalchamliana.

The CHT is an impoverished hilly, forested area that sprawls over more than 13,000 sq km of the Khagrachari, Rangamati, and Bandarban districts of southeastern Bangladesh, bordering Mizoram to the east, Tripura to the north, and Myanmar to the south and southeast. A significant portion of the population is tribal, and culturally and ethnically different from the majority Muslim Bangladeshis who live in the country’s deltaic mainland.

The tribal population of the CHT has ethnic links with tribal populations in the adjacent areas of India, mainly in Mizoram. Mizoram shares a 318-km-long border with Bangladesh.

A government official told The Indian Express that “some people of the tribal communities [had] entered India”, and that “some villagers of the area (Indian side), who hail from similar communities, provided them accommodation”. Humanitarian aid was being extended to the refugees “through NGOs, village committees, civil societies and the BSF, which is looking after their safety and security”, the official said.

Some of the refugees who entered India this week are unaccompanied children, the PTI report said.


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