Why Does India Need Stable Myanmar?
17:06 17.11.2023 (Updated: 10:56 18.11.2023)
Myanmar military personnel have been infiltrating India's territory in an attempt to escape rebel attacks, border police confirmed to Sputnik India.
At least 29 Myanmar soldiers crossed the border into India on Thursday, a police officer from the Mizoram Police Station (MPS) in India's Champhai district told Sputnik India.
According to the officer, 45 military personnel from Myanmar were likewise detained by Indian Security Forces on Tuesday for illegally crossing the border.
The day before, an army post across the border in Myanmar's Chin state was reportedly attacked by the People's Defense Force (PDF).
“A few [Myanmar] officers were injured and are now being treated in Champai Civil Hospital and other detained officers were handed over to the Indian Security forces," said the Mizoram policeman.
Are Rebels Fighting the Army?
“The military of Myanmar has battled insurgencies (...) for many years, but after a coup in 2021, anti-military forces began to collaborate in a way that had never been seen before, putting the army to its biggest test to date,” Major General (Retd) SB Asthna, director at the United Service Institution, told Sputnik India.
"The ethnic armies that collaborated with the PDF have become more powerful, expanding their sphere of influence and commencing to work together to put pressure on the military from all directions. They have also increased the intensity of their attacks against the Myanmar military
and taken control of several Myanmar posts. Consequently, a few Myanmar soldiers decided to flee and made it to India."
“A study suggested that the Ethnic Armed Organizations
(EAO) field roughly 130,000 soldiers, a considerable increase in personnel in recent years, and that some of them have access to cutting-edge weaponry
. Nearly all well-established EAOs have incentives to support resistance efforts aimed at weakening the military and pursuing their territorial control and autonomy, despite strategic differences," he explained.
Asthna likewise stated that, “Myanmar faces disintegration as a result of poor handling of the recent violence in its areas of border with China," echoing the declaration of the president of Myanmar.
In addition, the general claimed that as a result, the military is losing ground to multipronged EAO attacks, and ethnic armed groups are becoming more powerful and influential.
Following the coup in Myanmar,
the security environment has changed from being dominated by a power struggle between the military and the National League for Democracy
(NLD) to being multilateral, while the EAOs emerging as important new actors.
What Are India's Interests?
"India prefers a democratically governed, stable Myanmar; an unstable Myanmar does not suit India. Likewise, Myanmar is also in a strategic position to support all of India's initiatives with the nations
of Southeast Asia. In the event that India needs to connect by road, the route passes through Myanmar. So, therefore, Myanmar becomes important to India," said the general.
Likewise, he also voiced concern for India due to tensions on the Indo-Myanmar border, citing the long-standing tribal ties between India and Myanmar, as well as the influx of certain tribes into the northeast. The conflict between rebel groups and the Myanmar Army is entangling civilians and has resulted in a refugee crisis in India.
What Measures Has India Taken?
In order to safeguard the refugee inflow,
the general said that India has increased border vigilance, surveillance, upgrades, and capacity building for surveillance instruments, technologies, and troop densities.
“Unlike many other nations, India maintains open channels of communication with military leaders in Myanmar. As a result, the two governments will be debating this matter
and deciding on appropriate action together," Asthna noted.
As neither nation wants to come across as unduly harsh or soft, the general cautioned India
and Myanmar in handling this situation.
After Myanmar gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, the central authorities and military groups of ethnic minorities waged a civil war in the country until the 1990s. Experts believe that a new escalation of the civil war has been taking place since the military grabbed the power in Myanmar in February 2021.