India raises concerns about Myanmar violence; flags arms, narcotics trafficking | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India raises concerns about Myanmar violence; flags arms, narcotics trafficking

Jun 26, 2024 07:23 PM IST

S Jaishankar met Myanmar’s deputy PM Than Shwe, at his hotel while he was transiting through the Indian capital on his way home from a foreign visit

NEW DELHI: India raised its deep concern over violence and instability in Myanmar and the threat posed by the trafficking of narcotics and weapons when external affairs minister S Jaishankar met Myanmar’s deputy prime minister Than Shwe in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Jaishankar also called for an “early return to the path of democratic transition in Myanmar”, and said India “stands ready to help in any manner” (X/DrSJaishankar)
Jaishankar also called for an “early return to the path of democratic transition in Myanmar”, and said India “stands ready to help in any manner” (X/DrSJaishankar)

Jaishankar met Than Shwe, who is also foreign minister and led Myanmar’s ruling junta from 1992 to 2011, at his hotel while he was transiting through the Indian capital on his way home from a foreign visit. This is the first publicly acknowledged visit to New Delhi by a senior junta member since the military took power in Myanmar through a coup in February 2021.

“Discussed our deep concern at the impact of continuing violence and instability in Myanmar on our border. India is open to engaging all stakeholders in addressing this situation,” Jaishankar said in a post on X.

“Particularly flagged illegal narcotics, arms smuggling and trafficking in persons as priority challenges,” he said.

Jaishankar also called for an “early return to the path of democratic transition in Myanmar”, and said India “stands ready to help in any manner”. This was in line with India’s stated position that all players in Myanmar should cease hostilities and return to the path of dialogue to find a solution.

Myanmar’s junta has suffered a series of humiliating defeats since three powerful armed groups came together last year to launch “Operation 1027” (named after the date the offensive began). The groups joined hands with smaller militias and captured key towns and trade posts along Myanmar’s borders with India, Bangladesh and China and overran hundreds of military bases and positions. The junta’s grip on power has largely been limited to the central parts of Myanmar.

In April, New Delhi’s interests were affected when resistance forces advanced in areas around Sittwe, where the port was developed with Indian financial aid. India shuttered its consulate in Sittwe and pulled its diplomats out of the city.

India’s concerns have grown in recent weeks as government troops and resistance forces have clashed in the Sagaing region, which borders the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.

There have also been reports of Chin armed groups in Myanmar smuggling weapons into Manipur, which has been troubled by sectarian clashes for more than a year.

Jaishankar also sought Myanmar’s cooperation for the “early return of Indian nationals trapped in Myawaddy” and pressed for “credible security protection for our ongoing projects in the country”.

People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that hundreds of Indian nationals were believed to have been lured to Myawaddy with promises of jobs in the IT sector, such as data entry operators, and then forced to become part of cyber fraud networks.

Chinese criminal syndicates are believed to be behind 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 pig before slaughtering it.

Over the past two years, similar scams targeting Indian nationals have been detected in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Indian authorities have helped hundreds of its nationals who were lured to these countries to return home.

In recent years, India has sought to retain ties with Myanmar’s junta because of the role played by the military in cracking down on anti-India militant groups operating from Myanmarese soil. This has helped improve the security situation in India’s strategic northeastern states. India has also been reluctant to do anything that drives the junta closer to China but has taken steps in recent months to reach out to representatives of the resistance forces and Myanmar’s government in exile.

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