Several Dozen Myanmar Policemen Have Crossed Into India After Last month’s Coup, Reports

Some police officers in Myanmar have been telling their stories on how they were able to escape to India after defying the Myanmar army’s orders to shoot people who oppose the February 1 coup in the southeast Asian country.

Indian villagers in Mizoram have given shelter to 34 police personnel and one firefighter who crossed into India over the last two weeks. They spoke to an AP photojournalist on condition of anonymity because of fears of retribution against family members still in Myanmar.

Back in Myanmar, the three-finger salute, which traces its origins to the Hunger Games books and movies by Suzanne Collins, is being used by youth protesters at massive anti-army demonstrations.

Meanwhile, K. Vanlalvena, a lawmaker from Mizoram state, urged the Indian government not to deport refugees from Myanmar until the return of normalcy there. The lawmaker belongs to the Mizo National Front, an ally of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party.

According to Associated Press, those who escaped spend their time watching local television and doing daily chores. Some have carried mobile phones and are trying to connect to families they were forced to leave behind. At night, all of them sleep on mattresses on the floor of a single room. One of them told the AP that they were under the command of Myanmar’s army.

“We are all policemen working under the Myanmar government. We left our family in Myanmar. We do not know what is happening to our family, but they will face a lot of problems from the army. We came to Mizoram for shelter, we will die if we go back there,” he said.

“We cannot reach our parents due to telecommunication problems, but what we heard is they are very scared to go out of their homes … I’m hoping that one day we will meet again,” he added.

Earlier this month, Myanmar asked India to return the police officers who crossed the border. India shares a 1,643-kilometer (1,020-mile) border with Myanmar, and is home to thousands of refugees from Myanmar in different states.