Six lawmakers among 1,800 people from Myanmar sheltering in India

by Reuters
Thursday, 8 April 2021 15:40 GMT

By Devjyot Ghoshal

NEW DELHI, April 8 (Reuters) - At least six lawmakers from Myanmar are sheltering in India after fleeing their country amid fears they could be detained by the military junta that seized power in a coup, an advisor to the body representing the ousted government said on Thursday.

An Indian police official confirmed their presence and said they were among about 1,800 people who have crossed into India from Myanmar since late February, most of them taking refuge in the northeastern state of Mizoram.

The lawmakers, from Myanmar's Chin and Sagaing regions, are members of state and federal legislatures. They belong to the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which won a November 2020 election that the military disputed, the advisor said.

"MPs are in great danger at the moment in Myanmar. They are being searched, they are being followed by the soldiers," said the advisor to the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), who asked not to be named.

The presence of the lawmakers in India could create further diplomatic complications for New Delhi, which has traditionally had close ties with the Myanmar military but has publicly spoken out against the ongoing violence in recent days.

In response to questions from Reuters on the Myanmar lawmakers, India's foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said he had no information to share.

"Let me reiterate today our condemnation of the violence and our support for restoration of democracy in Myanmar," Bagchi said at an online media briefing earlier on Thursday.

More than 150 elected members of parliament and of the former government are among thousands of people who have been detained since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

About 600 people have been killed by security forces as protests against the coup continue across the country.

A spokesman for the junta could not be reached for comment.

"The members of parliament from NLD had to flee from their own residences and also from their own region," the advisor said, speaking via a video call from an undisclosed location in northeastern India.

Initially consisting of defecting Myanmar policemen and their families, the movement of people into Mizoram state has since expanded to include civilians fleeing the crackdown. (Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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