IMPHAL, Aug 20
A Buddhist monastery near Tamu in Myanmar opened its doors to more than 400 refugees from strife-torn Manipur, sheltering them during a period of distress. The refugees, predominantly Meiteis, had escaped violence that erupted in Manipur and sought refuge across the border.
This act of compassion comes at a time when the issue of refugees from Myanmar was under discussion in the Parliament of India. While debates revolved around the challenges posed by the influx of Myanmar refugees, it was revealed that Myanmar itself had offered refuge to those affected by turmoil in Manipur.
The majority of these refugees, hailing from the town of Moreh in the Kuki-majority Tengnoupal district along the India-Myanmar border, had sought sanctuary in the Buddhist Bodhi Toya Monastery in Myanmar. The locals and monks of the monastery extended their support, providing food and shelter for over three months to the displaced individuals.
Brojendra Meetei, one of the refugees brought back to Manipur on August 18, shared his experience. He recounted the events of May 3 when tribal mobs began attacking and burning down houses belonging to Meiteis. As violence escalated, around 400 Meiteis found themselves compelled to seek refuge in Myanmar.
"We entered Myanmar at midnight and took refuge at the houses of some Meiteis we knew. Subsequently, we sought shelter with Nepali (Gorkha) residents of Myanmar," Meetei, a businessman, revealed. The situation in Myanmar led them to travel further to Tamu, where they eventually found sanctuary at the Buddhist monastery.
During their time at the monastery, Myanmar Nationals provided them with ration while the monks offered shelter, drinking water, and even arranged for transportation during medical emergencies.
As the violence in Manipur subsided over the following months, these refugees gradually began returning to their homeland. A batch of 212 individuals, the last and largest group, was brought back to India on August 18. Currently, they are being accommodated at an Assam Rifles camp in Moreh and are expected to be relocated to the Imphal valley in the near future. India TodayNE