India seeks return of democracy in Myanmar

Shringla meets Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and indicates India can mediate to end crisis Democracy should be restored in Myanmar “at the earliest”, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla conveyed to the military rulers of Myanmar during his December 22-23 visit.

He met Chairman, State Administrative Council, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who has been internationally isolated because of the violent crackdown on protesting citizens, and conveyed India’s desire to engage various stakeholders to end the crisis in the Southeast Asian country.

“Foreign Secretary emphasised India’s interest in seeing Myanmar’s return to democracy at the earliest; release of detainees and prisoners; resolution of issues through dialogue and complete cessation of all violence,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

Since February 2, India has expressed concern at the ongoing military campaign against the democratic elements in Myanmar but this statement has additional significance, as it is the first time the government has hinted that India is ready to mediate among various sides to end the crisis.

Mr. Shringla raised India’s past engagements with various stakeholders to stabilise the country and suggested that New Delhi could talk to all sides to end the crisis that erupted after the military took over power following the electoral victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

No meeting with Suu KyiDuring the two-day visit, Mr. Shringla met representatives of the NLD, foreign diplomats and civil society activists.

Sources explained that the Indian side sought a meeting with jailed NLD leader Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi but the military junta denied permission for the meeting.

Mr. Shringla also met representatives of pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party of Myanmar.

Family members of Gen. Min Aung Hlaing came under U.S. sanctions after the February coup and he was excluded from the annual ASEAN summit of leaders as the Myanmar military continued its violence against the citizens demanding restoration of democracy.

The MEA said that as a “democracy and close neighbour”, “India proposed to renew these efforts for Myanmar to emerge as a stable, democratic, federal union in accordance with the wishes of the people of Myanmar”.

India had hosted various democratic groups of Myanmar for many years after the 1988 crackdown that forced them to seek shelter abroad.

Influx of displaced peopleApart from escalating narcotic and insurgent movements in the northeastern States, the influx of displaced people from Myanmar has added to India’s problems.

In the recent past, apart from civilians, even police personnel from Myanmar have taken refuge in States like Mizoram.

Mr. Shringla reminded the Myanmarese rulers that India shared 1700-km long border with Myanmar that runs along Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.

He raised the recent killing of the Commanding Officer of an Assam Rifles unit along with his wife and child in an ambush by militants in Churachandpur of Manipur. and pointed out that “any developments” in Myanmar would “have a direct impact on India’s bordering regions”.“Peace and stability in Myanmar remain of utmost importance to India, especially to its northeastern region,” the MEA stated.

The movement of arms and ammunition inside Myanmar had increased in the last 10 months after the democratic protest quickly received support from the insurgent groups in Myanmar’s forested northern and western regions that border India.

Noteworthy that India has, therefore, called for an end to “all violence”, which indicates that both the military crackdown against dissidents and the activities of the armed rebels should be controlled.

“Both sides reiterated their commitment to ensure that their respective territories would not be allowed to be used for any activities inimical to the other,” the MEA declared. Unconfirmed reports suggest that India is likely to announce a food grant for Myanmar very soon.

Source: The Hindu


  • Pazdin Dalal

    A marketing expert from Mumbai takes interest in covering defence and geopolitical issues. He has also been active in covering growth of private defence sector in India.

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