India needs to closely monitor the emerging situation in Myanmar, where China is making further inroads after international sanctions were imposed on the country after the military coup in February, chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat said on Saturday.“The BRI (belt and road initiative) of China to build roads, rails and energy corridors is bound to get further impetus with the sanctions on Myanmar,” said Gen Rawat, speaking at a webinar on the “Opportunities and Challenges in North East India” organized by the Indian Military Review here.The country’s senior-most military officer said “return of normalcy” in Myanmar would augur well for the region, especially India, because of “our historical and cultural linkages” with the country. The northeast region of India, which is connected to the rest of the country by the narrow and vulnerable Siliguri Corridor or the “Chicken’s Neck”, is of “immense geostrategic significance”, especially in the backdrop of China having “mischievously set eyes on the region”, he said.The presence of Rohingya refugees is another “emerging area of concern” for the region. “This could be exploited by radical Islamic groups to foment trouble and undermine peace and security in the region,” he said. Apart from China, there are several other security concerns for India like insurgent activity, illegal migration and drug-trafficking due to the “porous” borders in the northeast region.Noting that the internal security challenges in the northeast have “serious international dimensions”, Gen Rawat said, “Vigilant and alert central and state security forces, augmented by regional and international diplomatic-military cooperation, will be crucial in keeping up with these security challenges.” There has been a major reduction in violence levels due to “sustained counter-insurgency operations” in the northeast region and “loss of safe havens” for extremist outfits in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar in recent years. “We need to ensure these positive developments are consolidated further through peace talks,” he saidThe CDS also strongly argued for overall development of the “unique, beautiful, culture and resource-rich” northeast region with concerted efforts in several areas, including setting up of “centers of excellence” in the region. “The northeast holds enormous geo-economic potential as a gateway to East and South-East Asia,” he said.
Source: Times of India