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Manipur government and agencies in war against fake Aadhaar and Voter ID gangs helping illegal immigrants from Myanmar

Notably, Southern Manipur is the epicentre of the state government’s low-decibel operation to nab illegal immigrants carrying fake identity documents including Aadhaar and voter ID. The state government said that this is not limited to Manipur and they see it as a threat to national security.

In the conflict-hit Manipur, the police have busted a massive racket of issuing counterfeit Aadhaar and voter ID cards to illegal immigrants in Manipur. A special police team has been tracking the racket and arresting several accused in recent times, NDTV reported, citing sources.

The police have arrested two illegal infiltrators from Myanmar residing in the Churachandpur district of Manipur. Two fake identity cards were recovered from their possession. The police said that they are investigating numerous such cases.  

Illegal immigrants from Myanmar with fake Aadhaar and voter ID cards in Manipur (Source: NDTV)

The police official told NDTV that illegal immigrants can write the name of any place in address, based on what the criminals running the racket ‘advise’ them to write.

Notably, Southern Manipur is the epicentre of the state government’s low-decibel operation to nab illegal immigrants carrying fake identity documents including Aadhaar and voter ID. The state government said that this is not limited to Manipur and they see it as a threat to national security.

The biometrics of Myanmar refugees fleeing violence between junta forces and pro-democracy militants are being recorded in Manipur. However, illegal immigrants who avoid Indian authorities’ attempts to capture their biometrics are the ones who contact the bogus Aadhaar gangs. The authorities are taking action against such illegal immigration and identity fraud rings.

Action against fake identity rackets and illegal immigrants in the last few years

Back in 2018, 10 people were arrested for involvement in two fake Aadhaar card rackets operating from the bordering towns of Jirbhim and Moreh. Of the 10 arrested, 9 were illegal Muslim immigrants from Myanmar. One Indian woman Paritha Begum from Tamil Nadu was also arrested. The police raided the house one Mohammad Tomba at Moreh and seized two laptops, four Aadhaar Cards, one printer machine, one laminating film machine, plastic sheets, DVDs and photo paper.

Similarly, in May 2018, around 98 illegal immigrants with fake Aadhaar cards were arrested from Imphal City.

In October 2021, Assam Rifles troops arrested  24 Burmese illegal immigrants who were travelling with counterfeit Aadhaar cards along the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district. This came about a week after 11 Myanmar nationals were arrested at Imphal Airport while attempting to board a Delhi-bound flight using forged Aadhaar cards.

Notably, in just two days last year, over 700 illegal immigrants including 301 children from Myanmar entered Manipur.

How the government is tackling the menace of fake Aadhaar cards and voter IDs in Manipur

The proliferation of fake Aadhaar cards and voter IDs in Manipur has emerged as a significant challenge for the Indian government and its agencies. This issue has not only raised concerns about national security but also about the integrity of the electoral process.

In recent years, Manipur has witnessed an increase in the circulation of counterfeit identification documents, including Aadhaar cards and voter IDs. These fake documents are often used by illegal immigrants and individuals involved in fraudulent activities. The use of such documents undermines the credibility of the national identification system and poses risks to both security and governance.

Last year, over 1000 fake voter identity cards were recovered from the razed houses of Kukis in the Kakching district.

Notably, the authorities have taken several steps to tackle the fake Aadhaar and voter IDs being obtained by illegal immigrants from Myanmar.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has intensified the verification process for Aadhaar cards. Enhanced biometric authentication and cross-checking with other government databases are being used to ensure the authenticity of the issued IDs . Notably, various government agencies, including the Election Commission of India (ECI), UIDAI, and local law enforcement, are collaborating to tackle the issue.

Given Manipur’s proximity to international borders, border security has been intensified. Manipur shares a long and porous border with Myanmar, making it easier for people to cross over illegally. The challenging terrain and inadequate border security infrastructure contribute to the ease of illegal crossings. However, the Border Security Force and other agencies are conducting rigorous checks to prevent the inflow of illegal immigrants and counterfeit documents. The seriousness of the influx of illegal immigrants from Myanmar entering and settling in India can be understood from this that the number of illegal Myanmar nationals living in shelter homes in eight villages has outnumbered the locals, as claimed by a local MLA.

The government has also been pushing for the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to identify illegal immigrants. In addition, the establishment of detention centres is part of the government’s efforts to manage illegal immigration. OpIndia has reported about the Manipur government deporting illegal immigrants in such detention centres. On 8th May this year, the Manipur government announced the completion of the first phase of deportation of illegal immigrants from Myanmar “without any discrimination”. 

In June this year, the Manipur government deported 38 illegal immigrants belonging to Myanmar through the Integrated Check Post (ICP), Moreh. 

The influx of Kuki-Chin people and the Manipur problem

In August last year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah informed the Lok Sabha that the situation in Manipur began with an influx of Chin-Kuki refugees from nearby Myanmar after the military rulers there launched a crackdown on militants in 2021. These illegal immigrants arriving in Manipur aroused fears of a demographic change in the region.

“A Kuki Democratic Front started a movement there, and the military rulers launched a crackdown on them. As there is no border fencing, a large number of Kuki brothers came to Manipur and Mizoram as refugees. As the Kuki refugees settled down in the forests of Manipur valley, there were fears of a demographic change,” Shah said.

Amit Shah has time and again emphasised the importance of holding talks to resolve disputes with concerned parties—Kukis and Meteis. However, the Home Minister made it clear in April that a separate Kuki-Zo dominant Union Territory would not be formed as he stated the state “would not be allowed to break apart under any circumstances”.

The Kuki-Zo community has still been pressing for its separate UT demand. Recently, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) wrote to Amit Shah to demand a separate union territory for Kuki-Zo tribals.

The Zo people and their demand for ‘Kukiland’

the Zo people, also known as Zomi, Chin-Kuki-Mizo, are an ethnic group inhabiting the hilly regions of India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. Their historical origins trace back to the Chin Hills of Myanmar and the adjoining areas of Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland in India. During the British colonial rule, these tribes were converted on a large scale by Christian missionaries. As OpIndia reported recently, several Kuki-Chin militant groups have been carrying out killings, kidnappings, and extortions in Manipur, and are closely involved in the ongoing ethnic strife in the north-eastern state.

Recently, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina had warned about the alleged designs of the US to carve out a Christian nation “Zogam” for Zo people. It is said to be on the lines of “Zalengam” [land of freedom], a proposed Kuki State. This separate nation would comprise large parts of Sagaing Division and the Chin state of Myanmar, the Indian state of Mizoram, and Kuki-inhabited areas of Manipur, and the Bandarban district and adjoining areas of Bangladesh’s Chittagong division. Several Kuki-Chin militant groups active in Myanmar and Bangladesh have joined forces with Islamic terrorist groups as well.

In the words of an Intelligence Bureau official, “Kuki-Chins have got tens of thousands of Chins from neighbouring Myanmar to illegally enter Manipur and settle down in the state, thus boosting the Kuki-Chin population of the state exponentially. Notably, these Kuki militant groups earn money through the cultivation of opium and trafficking drugs, including synthetic drugs, from Myanmar and Manipur through Mizoram and Bangladesh.

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