Prevent influx from Myanmar, India orders Assam Rifles

Subir Bhaumik

Kolkata

The Union Home Ministry has asked the paramilitary Assam Rifles to prevent any Myanmar national from crossing into Indian territory and push back any found attempting to cross over.

The Assam Rifles guards the India-Myammar border in the northeast, while the BSF guards the border with Bangladesh.

Sources in the paramilitary force said the "instructions from the top" was clear and unambiguous -- no Myanmar national should be allowed to enter India without valid visa or travel permit.

The India-Myanmar border has a Free Movement Regime (FMR) which allows tribes living along the border to travel 16 km across either side without visa restrictions and on a simple permit issued by local authorities.

There are over 250 villages with over 300,000 people living within 10 km of the border who frequently cross through 150 small and large formal and informal crossings. The order follows the considerable embarassment now faced by New Delhi after Myanmar officially asked for immediate return of 8 cops who had crossed over and sought shelter in the northeastern state of Mizoram.

The policemen told state authorities they were hounded down by the army after they refused to open fire on peaceful demonstrators in the Chin state.

It is unclear why the Chin state administration has asked for return of only 8 policemen when reports from Mizoram suggest 30 people, mostly policemen and their family members, had taken shelter in Mizoram’s Champhai district after the Feb 1 military takeover in the South Asian nation.

The Mizoram Home Dept confirmed over 16 Myanmar nationals, including cops, have crossed over into the state. An intelligence official said Myanmarese are perhaps not aware of who all fled the country and had confirmed information about only 8 policemen whose repatriation has been sought.

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