Guwahati: A Norwegian woman of Myanmar origin, who was apprehended by the Assam Rifles near Manipur’s Moreh town with expired travel documents in August last year, is reportedly a top member of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), a rebel group fighting against the Myanmar government.
Currently, she is being kept in safe custody by the state government in Imphal. Mya Kyay Mon (52) of Myaunk Pyin Mandalay in Myanmar and a permanent resident of Trondheim Sor Trondelag, Norway, was arrested by the Assam Rifles personnel on August 9, 2022 from Khudengthabai in Tengnoupal district bordering Myanmar.
The Assam Rifles charged her for travelling without a valid passport and e-visa and handed her over to the Moreh police where she was booked under section 14 of the Foreigner Act.
A local court subsequently remanded her in police and later sent her to judicial custody till she was released on bail on January 6 this year by the sessions judge, Imphal West.
While granting the bail, the court, among other points, ruled that the accused should not leave the state without prior permission of the court and should furnish details of her local residence to the concerned authorities, including the officer-in-charge of the Moreh police station.
During interrogation of the accused while in custody, it was learnt that she is a high-ranking cadre of the KNLA, sources said. KNLA is the military unit of the Karen National Union (KNU), which campaigns for the self-determination of the Karen people of Myanmar, the sources said, adding that she joined the outfit in 2003 and got basic military training for three months.
On October 23 this year, she was found loitering at Ima market in Imphal city as personnel of the city police picked her up, and following an order issued by the state home department on October 25, she has been kept at the Foreigners Detention Centre in Imphal.
The order, while stating that she should be provided “safe shelter and basic amenities,” said that she should be prevented from “freely roaming illegally without having VISA till the completion of any legal process in any court of law or further deportation process if any, as done in case of other illegal migrants.”
A source said that the woman had been putting up in different parts of the state for about three months ahead of the ethnic conflict that unfolded in the state on May 3 this year.
Case documents said that the woman arrived in India on April 24, 2019, with a valid passport and e-visa, but owing to the COVID-19-induced lockdown, she could not renew her travel papers in Imphal.
Another source said that she while staying in the state’s Churachandpur district, had filed a petition with the Manipur High Court recently with a prayer to quash the FIR filed against her by the Moreh police.
She, according to the petition, came to India by duly obtaining an “Indian visa on her Norwegian passport and have been travelling to Bodh Gaya on a pilgrimage and to various other states of India where there is poverty and destitute.”
“She also came to Manipur and stayed at the border town of Moreh and rendered her humanitarian services to the destitute persons in the remote villages,” said the petition.
It said that she has been in custody for more than the statutory period of 120 days and that the Norwegian government issued a new passport to her on October 13 last year. It is learnt that her petition is still pending.
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