416 Myanmarese military personnel entered India, keeping close watch: Army chief

Manoj Pande describes the situation near the Indo-Myanmar border as 'concerning'

Army chief general Manoj Pande (photo: National Herald archives)
Army chief general Manoj Pande (photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

About 416 Myanmarese soldiers crossed over to India in view of the situation arising out of the fighting between Myanmar's armed ethnic groups and the government forces, said Army chief general Manoj Pande on Thursday, adding that the Indian military is "closely watching" the unfolding developments.

At a press conference ahead of Army Day, Pande described the situation near the Indo-Myanmar border as "concerning", and added that some of the insurgent groups feeling the pressure in the frontier region of that country are attempting to enter Manipur.

"The situation across the Indo-Myanmar border is something that we are closely watching," he said, while officials said all 416 Myanmarese military personnel have already been repatriated.

Myanmar's anti-junta groups have reportedly taken control of several key towns and military bases near Myanmar's border with India, and the volatile situation has forced scores of Myanmarese citizens to take refuge in Mizoram.

"That (situation along the Indo-Myanmar border) has been of concern to us. You are aware of the activities of the Myanmar Army and the ethnic armed organisations and the PDF (People's Defence Forces) in the past couple of months," he said.

The army chief said about 416 Myanmarese Army personnel have crossed over to India till date, besides some civilians from that country taking shelter in Mizoram and Manipur.

"The situation across the Indo-Myanmar border is of concern as we also have some of the insurgent groups, who are feeling the pressure and are now attempting to come to our side of the border in the state of Manipur," general Pande said. "That combined with the situation in Manipur is something we are keeping a close watch on," he added.

The army chief said India is also considering strengthening fencing along the border with Myanmar. "We have strengthened our posture, deployment on the Indo-Myanmar border, we have close to 20 Assam Rifles battalions which are deployed there," he said.

Myanmar has been witnessing widespread protests demanding restoration of democracy since the military seized power in a coup in February 2021. The Myanmarese military has been using airstrikes to target its opponents and those carrying out an armed struggle against the ruling regime.

Myanmar is one of India's strategic neighbours and shares a 1,640-km border with a number of northeastern states, including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.

The hostilities between Myanmar's anti-junta groups and government forces in several key towns and regions near the border with India fuelled concerns in the Indian military establishment about the possible spillover effect.

Last month, India called for cessation of fighting between Myanmar's military and the anti-junta groups near the Indo-Myanmar border.

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