Connecting Regions of Asia.

India Orders Assam Rifles To Prevent Influx From Myanmar


The Union Home Ministry has asked the para-military Assam Rifles to prevent any Myanmar national from crossing into Indiam territory and push back any found attempting to cross over.
The Assam Rifles guards the India-Myammar border in northeast while the BSF guards the border with Bangladesh.
Top sources in the para-military force said that the ‘instructions from the top’ was clear and unambiguous — no Myanmar national should be allowed to enter India without valid visa or travel permit.
The India–Myanmar border has a Free Movement Regime (FMR) which allows tribes living along the border to travel 16 km across either side of the border without visa restrictions and on a simple permit issued by local authorities on either side.
There are over 250 villages with over 300,000 people living within 10 kilometres of the border who frequently cross the border through 150 small and large formal and informal border crossings.

The order follows the considerable embarassment now faced by Delhi after Myanmar officially asked for immediate return of eight policemen who had crossed over and sought shelter in the northeastern state of Mizoram.
The policemen told state authorities that they were hounded down by the army after they refused to open fire on peaceful demonstrators in the Chin state.
It is not clear why the Chin state administration has asked for return of only 8 policemen when reports from Mizoram suggest nearly 30 people, mostly policemen and their family members , had taken shelter in Mizoram’s Champhai district after the Feb 1 military takeover in Myammar.
The Mizoram home department confirms  at least 16 Myanmarese people including some policemen have crossed over into the state .
One Indian intelligence official said the Myanmarese are perhaps not yet aware  of all those who have fled the country and had confirmed information about only eight policemem whose repatriation has been sought.
Champhai district’s deputy commissioner Maria CT Zuali told this writer that she had received a formal letter from her counterpart in Myanmar’s Chin state requesting a ‘friendly gesture’ by handing over the eight Myanmar policemen.
Zuali said she was waiting for instructions from Delhi and Aizawl.
During the 1988 uprising and the massacre of thousands that rocked Myanmar, India opened its borders to those fleeing the crackdown. Thousands of Myammarese including MPs entered Manipur and Mizoram and many of them reached Delhi and secured UNHCR refugee cards. 
The Rajiv Gandhi government decided to back and even fund the Burmese provisional government in exile .
But Indian policy changed since the late 1990s when the first BJP led government took charge in Delhi.
Prodded considerably by the Indian army which sought better relations with Burmese military Tatmadaw to neutralise the northeastern rebel bases in Myanmar’s Sagaing region, the BJP government not only pushed back many Myanmarese , including a military deserter who was possibly executed.
It also stopped all covert support that had earlier been provided to Myanmar’s rebel armies like Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the National Unity Party of Arakans ( NUPA) .
Eight top NUPA leaders were killed by a military intelligence umit headed by one Colonel B J S Grewal and more than 30 NUPA activists were interned in the Andamans during ‘Operation Leech’  in 1998. 
The detained NUPA activists were finally released by the Calcutta high court when the military lawyers backed off from pressing charges of gun-running againt the NUPA rebels , as embarassing facts of close support provided to them prior to a double-cross by Col Grewal surfaced during the court proceedings.
Human Rights lawyer Nandita Haksar, who defended the NUPA rebels, later exposed the truth behind “Operation Leech”  in her book ” The Rogue Agent”( Penguins).
Both the Manmohan Singh and te Narendra Modi government have pursued consistently a robust engagement both with Aung Saan Suu Kyi’s NLD party and the Burmese military Tatmadaw, both to ensure action against Northeastern rebels and to prevent a drift towards China.
After the Feb 1 military  takeover, India pitched for ‘orderly democratic transition’ but stopped short of direct criticism of the military-dominated State Administrative Council.

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