Foreign secretary Kwatra raises border security, human trafficking issues with Myanmar | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Foreign secretary Kwatra raises border security, human trafficking issues with Myanmar

Nov 22, 2022 08:05 PM IST

Concerns have grown in New Delhi following an increase in fighting between Myanmar’s military and rebel groups, such as the Arakan Army in Rakhine and Chin states, since August

Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra raised the issue of security in border areas and human trafficking by international crime syndicates with his interlocutors in Myanmar during a two-day visit to the neighbouring country.

Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra with the senior leadership of Myanmar. (Twitter Photo)
Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra with the senior leadership of Myanmar. (Twitter Photo)

Kwatra also expressed India’s continued support for people-centric developmental projects, including those in border areas, and for connectivity initiatives such as the Kaladan multimodal transit transport project. Kwatra was the first senior Indian official to travel to an increasingly isolated Myanmar this year and concluded his two-day trip on Monday.

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Concerns have grown in New Delhi following an increase in fighting between Myanmar’s military and rebel groups, such as the Arakan Army in Rakhine and Chin states, since August. The growing instability in these regions could embolden Myanmar-based anti-India militant groups to step up their activities in the country’s northeastern region, people familiar with the matter said.

Another issue of concern is the luring of hundreds of Indians to Myanmar’s Myawaddy area by Chinese criminal gangs operating what has come to be known as the “pig butchering” scam, which involves online fraudsters convincing people to deposit money into fake platforms. The name is derived from the analogy of a farmer fattening up a hog before slaughtering it. Most of the Indians were low-level IT workers lured with offers of lucrative jobs, and India’s missions in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos have rescued dozens of them in recent weeks.

Also Read:‘Drugs enter NE states from Myanmar before smuggled to Bangladesh’: Tripura CM

During his meetings with the senior leadership of Myanmar, Kwatra “discussed maintenance of security and stability in the border areas of India and Myanmar”, the external affairs ministry said on Tuesday.

Kwatra also “raised the issue of human trafficking by international crime syndicates in the Myawaddy area of Myanmar in which many Indian nationals have been caught”, it said.

Besides reviewing bilateral development cooperation projects, Kwatra expressed India’s continued support to socio-economic developmental projects, including those along the border areas, as well as the commitment to the expeditious implementation of connectivity initiatives such as the Kaladan multimodal transit transport project and the trilateral highway involving Myanmar and Thailand.

Kwatra reiterated India’s commitment to continue projects under the Rakhine State Development Programme and Border Area Development Programme, the ministry said.

Former foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, the last senior Indian official to visit Myanmar in December 2021, had called for a complete cessation of all violence and a return to democracy at the earliest in the wake of the military coup of last year. External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted that Kwatra had discussed “India’s support to democratic transition in Myanmar”.

In a sign of the growing frustration with Myanmar’s military junta within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), leaders of the grouping warned at a recent summit that the country will be barred from all of the bloc’s meetings unless it comes up with a specific timeline for implementing the “five-point consensus” plan for restoring democracy.

Myanmar has witnessed political and economic chaos since the junta overthrew an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and began a crackdown on dissent.

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