Thousands fleeing Myanmar’s military operations have crossed into India’s northeastern states, raising concerns among officials that the region could become a platform for pro-democracy activists and destabilize the region.
Three Indian states, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland, are currently harboring some 16,000 people from Myanmar, according to civil society groups and government officials, whose number is expected to rise in the coming months, Reuters reported on Thursday.
In Mizoram, where most of Myanmar’s people have sought refuge, authorities are watching closely for pro-democracy fighters who are joining the refugees as they cross the useless, densely forested border along the Tiau River.
“We are monitoring this very closely,” a state government adviser told Reuters. He said some of Myanmar’s fighters had previously crossed into India with the support of the people, but had since returned.
“We will never allow them to train in Mizoram,” he said. “If you disturb Mizoram, there will be a problem for the refugees.”
A group of at least 50 people in Myanmar held a training camp in Mizoram, a senior police resistance official told Reuters.
“The camp in the Champay district of Mizoram does not include the use of weapons. It was disbanded after Indian paramilitaries made a request,” said a member of the resistance, who declined to be named.
“All the young people have moved back to Myanmar,” said a member of the resistance.
At least 850 people have been killed in a riot in Myanmar since the country’s generals staged a coup in February to overthrow a civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The heaviest fighting took place in China, bordering India, in clashes between local and international militias.
The ousted lawmaker of the National Liberation Democratic League (NLD), Suu Kyi, told Reuters that some Chinese resistance fighters had acquired weapons from India’s Male Army, an ethnic militant in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, which promotes clandestine arms trade in the region.
“Obviously, these people want to fight the junta. “I think what they will try to do is get some weapons from this weapon (from India),” said a Mizoram police official after learning of the training camp.
India’s 1,600-kilometer border with Myanmar has also long been home to militant groups opposed to New Delhi. They operate on both sides of the border and make a profit from drugs that have infiltrated Southeast Asia, say Indian security officials.
“The real concern is that if the insurgents pass, it will give oxygen to the Nagas and Manipur insurgents,” a senior government source in New Delhi told Reuters, citing about two dozen insurgent groups operating along the border.
Myanmar’s military spokesman has not responded to Reuters calls for comment on the situation along the border.
The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has referred questions about the situation in the eastern region to the Ministry of Interior, which does not respond to e-mails or messages.
Avinash Palival, a senior lecturer in international relations at SOAS University in London, said the fighting and fighting along the Myanmar border had created the most serious security situation in India’s Far East for three decades, often referred to as the North East.
It could jeopardize India’s relationship with the coup leaders and jeopardize $ 650 million in New Delhi investment in Myanmar port port projects.
“The whole agenda of the connection, the balancing of China, the counter-insurgency strategies for drug crimes have become more complicated,” Palival said.
“The migrant crisis in the Northeast may take a different, politicized or even militarized turn in the future,” he added.
Authorities in the state of Mizoram, home to about 15,000 people seeking asylum in Myanmar, have appealed to the Indian Foreign Ministry for help in setting up eight refugee camps, according to a June 1 letter seen by Reuters.
In Haran Manipur, some of the 1,000 people who have fled Myanmar are taking refuge in makeshift camps in forest areas, even when monsoon rains begin, says human rights activist Bablo Loitongbam.
Leutongbam Nag Members of the Naga Myanmar Students’ Organization say there is a food crisis in the border areas of the country. Staples like rice are declining.
“Apart from violence, the economy is also collapsing. So more people will come, ”said Manipur-based Loitongbam. “People have to find a way to survive.”