The Army’s highest-ranking officer in the Eastern Command has said that the Assam Rifles guarding the 1,643-km Myanmar border has been given clear instructions to allow entry not only to villagers seeking refuge from the fighting in the country but even to personnel from the Myanmar army who are pushed into India. The Myanmar army personnel, who are forced to cross the border because of the fighting with the pro-democracy resistance forces in areas close to it, are made to surrender weapons and their identity is established before they are handed over to authorities in Myanmar.
The officer clarified, however, that no armed persons are being given entry and care is being taken to ensure that drug peddlers can’t enter India in the garb of refugees.
Tuesday’s statement by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-In-C) of the Eastern Command, Lieutenant General Rana Pratap Kalita, comes in the wake of 5.000 refugees entering India last week and 60 Myanmar army soldiers being handed back to Myanmerese authorities.
Most of the refugees are entering India through Mizoram, whose tribes share a strong ethnic connection with the people in Myanmar, and some are coming in through strife-torn Manipur as well.
“The directions are very clear to the forces on the Myanmar border – common villagers seeking refuge to escape the conflict in Myanmar are not stopped, they are allowed to enter our territory. There is a process which is followed in consultation with the state government and whenever they want to go back, they are sent back. But the directions are very clear that no armed cadres are allowed to enter,” Lt Gen Kalita said.
We have recovered a lot of contraband drugs and narcotics from people who are coming, so we are keeping a very close eye on drug peddlers. Even when Myanmar army personnel are coming in, we are allowing them after they hand over their weapons. After proper identification, they are taken to the Moreh border (in Manipur) and handed over to Myanmarese authorities.” he said.
On violence continuing in Manipur, the Lt Gen said, “We have been able to largely able to contain the violence in Manipur but, because of the sharp polarisation between the two communities, sporadic incidents sill happen. There has to be a political resolution of the situation”.
2 Killed In Manipur
A security force personnel and his driver were shot dead – by suspected members of terror groups based in the Imphal valley – in Kangpokpi district of Manipur on Monday, officials said.
The duo were travelling in a vehicle when suspected members of a terror group carried out an ambush between Haraothel and Kobsha villages, the officials said.
The incident took place in an area adjacent to the Singda dam, which has become a hotspot for insurgent groups targeting tribal community members during the ongoing ethnic violence in the state.
A tribal organisation claimed that members from the Kuki-Zo community were attacked without provocation and declared a “shutdown” in Kangpokpi district.
“There have been legacy issues between communities in Manipur. Now both communities are completely polarised. More than 4,000 looted weapons are still in the hands of people, so they are being used and sporadic incidents are continuing,” Lt Gen Kalita added.
Over 200 people have died and more than 3,000 have been injured in the violence in Manipur, which began on May 3, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status.