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The Manipur government has accused an increase in illegal Myanmar refugees entering the Kuki-Zomi dominated Churachandpur district of the state. However, the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has ordered the immediate release of Myanmar refugees who have been kept in state jails beyond their detention period. The MHRC has directed the state government to work with the Union Home Minister for their prompt deportation back to Myanmar.

According to the order issued by MHRC Chairperson Justice UB Shah, convict prisoners have been detained in jail even after completing their imprisonment period. Sources within the commission have reported that there are currently 35 Myanmar nationals, including children, held in Manipur jails.

The commission has acknowledged the challenges faced by the jail authority in handling these cases. After releasing the prisoners, the jail authority is instructed to hand over them and their minor children to the Home department of the Manipur government for placement in a detention center or deportation to Myanmar. The Home department is tasked with raising the issue with the Union government to facilitate communication with the Myanmar government. The order also calls for providing the refugees with some money or essential items upon deportation.

The MHRC took action following a complaint from a Myanmar citizen, Mya Myay Mon, who alleged that six minors were detained in jail along with their mothers and grandmothers past their sentence completion. The complainant had arrived in India before the Covid pandemic, but her visa expired during the crisis, leading to her current situation in a shelter.

After receiving the complaint, the Commission summoned the Superintendent of Imphal Central Jail for a hearing. The Superintendent clarified that the children mentioned in the complaint were not officially detained or arrested by the police, but were under safe custody with their family members who were arrested under the Foreigners Act for entering Manipur without proper documents.

The Superintendent explained that the children were sentenced in July and August 2022 and arrangements were made for their deportation. Currently, they are being held in a detention center as per the court’s instructions.

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