Thousands of people fleeing military crackdown in Myanmar are crossing into the northeastern states of India, leading to concerns among officials that the region could become a staging place for pro-democracy activists and stoke instability.
Three Indian states – Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland – are currently carrying about 16,000 people from Myanmar, civil society groups and government officials estimate, with the number growing in the coming months, Reuters news agency reported. Thursday.
In Mizoram, where the largest number of people in Myanmar have sought a sanctuary, authorities are alerting pro-democracy fighters as they join refugees moving across the barrier-free, densely wooded border marked by the river. Tiau.
“We are following him very closely,” a state government adviser told Reuters. He said some Myanmar fighters had crossed before with the support of people in India, but since then they had returned.
“We will never allow them to train in Mizoram,” the councilor said. “If you disrupt Mizoram, there will be a problem for the refugees.”
In early May, a group of at least 50 people from Myanmar held a training camp in Mizoram, a state police officer and a member of the resistance told Reuters.
The camp in Mizoram’s Champhai district did not involve the use of weapons and was disbanded after Indian paramilitary troops conducted investigations, the resistance member said, refusing to be called.
“All the young people have returned to Myanmar,” said the member of the resistance.
At least 850 people have been killed in the turmoil in Myanmar since the country’s generals staged a coup in February, defeating the civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Some of the heaviest fighting has taken place in the state of Chin, which borders India, in clashes between military and local militias.
A lawmaker fired by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) told Reuters that some Chin State resistance fighters had acquired weapons from India and the Arakan Army, an ethnic militia in Myanmar’s Rakhine region. , fueling a clandestine arms trade in the region.
“Of course, these people want to fight against the junta. What they are trying to do, in my opinion, is to procure some weapons from this side (India), ”said Mizoram police officer with knowledge of the training camp.
The 1,600 km (1,000-mile) Indian border with Myanmar has also long led armed groups opposed to the New Delhi rule. They operate from both sides of the border and take advantage of narcotics pushed from Southeast Asia, Indian security officials say.
“It is a real concern that if the rebels cross, it will give oxygen to the Naga and Manipur insurgents,” a senior government source in New Delhi told Reuters, referring to about two dozen insurgent groups operating along the border.
A Myanmar military spokesman did not respond to Reuters calls to comment on the situation along the border.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of India referred questions related to the situation in the eastern region to the Minister of Interior, who did not respond to e-mails and messages.
Avinash Paliwal, a lecturer in international relations at SOAS University in London, said the influx and long-term struggle on Myanmar’s border have created the worst security situation in the Far East. India, often called northeast, in three decades.
This could affect India’s relations with coup leaders, and jeopardize about $ 650 million of New Delhi’s investments in port and highway projects in Myanmar.
“The whole connection agenda, balancing China, and crime and counterinsurgency strategies have become complicated,” Paliwal said.
“The migrant crisis in the Northeast may take a different turn, politicized or even militarized in the future,” he added.
In the state of Mizoram, where about 15,000 people from Myanmar are seeking refuge, authorities have written to India’s foreign minister for help in setting up eight refugee camps, according to a letter dated 1 June seen by Reuters.
In nearby Manipur, some of the 1,000 people who have fled Myanmar are taking refuge in makeshift camps in wooded areas even when heavy monsoon rains begin, said Babloo Loitongbam, a human rights activist.
Loitongbam and a member of the Naga Student Organization in Myanmar said there has been a food crisis looming in the border areas of that country, with commodities such as rice.
“Apart from violence, the economy is also collapsing.” So, more people are coming, “said Loitongbam, who is based in Manipur.” People have to find a way to survive. “