‘Deeply concerned’: India calls for peace as Myanmar fighting reaches near border
India wants cessation of the violence and resolution of the situation through constructive dialogue, Arindam Bagchi said
NEW DELHI: India on Thursday expressed deep concern at fighting between Myanmar’s anti-junta groups and government forces close to the country’s border, which resulted in Myanmar nationals seeking refuge in Mizoram, and pushed for a cessation of violence and a constructive dialogue.
An expanding offensive by anti-junta groups has seen resistance fighters capture key towns, military bases and trade routes near the border with the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram. Among the areas seized by them is Rihkhawdar, home to one of only two official land border crossing points between the two countries.
“We reiterate our call for the return of peace, stability and democracy in Myanmar,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular media briefing while responding to questions on the recent fighting.
“As a result of the fighting [at] Rihkhawdar area in Chin State, opposite Zokhawthar in Mizoram on the India-Myanmar border, there has been movement of Myanmar nationals to the Indian side. We are deeply concerned with such incidents close to our border,” he said.
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A group of resistance fighters took control of two military camps at Rihkhawdar on Monday after several hours of fighting. The fighting resulted in some 5,000 Myanmar nationals, including more than 40 soldiers, seeking shelter in Mizoram. The soldiers were flown by the Indian side to another border crossing and sent back.
On Thursday, there were fresh reports that at least 29 more Myanmar soldiers entered India to flee an attack on their base by resistance fighters. The UN has said the intensified fighting since last month has displaced about 90,000 people.
Bagchi said India’s position on the situation in Myanmar “is very clear – we want cessation of the violence and resolution of the situation through constructive dialogue”.
Since the current conflict in Myanmar started in 2021, a large number of citizens from the neighbouring country have taken refuge in India, he said. “Local authorities in the concerned neighbouring states have been handling the situation appropriately on humanitarian grounds. We have also been facilitating the return of those who wish to go back to Myanmar,” he added.
Bagchi didn’t provide details on the number of Myanmar nationals who have crossed over to India, though reports have said tens of thousands of them have sought refuge in India’s northeastern region, primarily in Mizoram, since the junta assumed power in the military coup of February 2021.
The latest fighting along the border with India erupted as anti-junta groups expanded Operation 1027, an offensive named after the date when it started that had focused on areas in Shan State along Myanmar’s frontier with China. Since then, fighting has also spread to Kachin State and Sagaing Region, which border India.
Bagchi said he didn’t agree with suggestions that India is propping up or supporting the junta. “We have engagement on cooperation with them on various issues, it’s a neighbouring country. Whatever actions we take are in the light of our interests, we are certainly cognisant of our responsibilities and we keep in mind all factors in it,” he said.
Members of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), an advisory body to Myanmar’s government-in-exile, have called on India to end its relationship with the State Administration Council (SAC), which has ruled the country since the 2021 coup, and to engage with the ethnic resistance organisations since they represent the voice of the people of Myanmar.