Why is India setting up a fence at Myanmar border? Amit Shah explains

Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that the Indian government has decided to protect the India-Myanmar border effectively.

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New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has affirmed that India's border with Myanmar will receive the same protective measures as the border with Bangladesh. This assurance comes in response to reports of hundreds of Myanmar soldiers entering India, fleeing the ongoing conflict with armed insurgents battling the country's junta.

Protective measures for India-Myanmar border

Speaking at the passing out parade of state police commandos in Assam, Amit Shah stated, "Our border with Myanmar is an open border. The Narendra Modi government has decided to protect the India-Myanmar border...and we will work towards building a fence in the entire border area (with Myanmar) like that at the borders with Bangladesh."

End of free movement regime agreement?

Shah also revealed that discussions are underway regarding the Free Movement Regime agreement with Myanmar. The Indian government, under the Modi administration, intends to terminate the "free movement regime," which permits people on both sides of the international border to travel within 16 km into each other’s territory without a visa.

Myanmar soldiers sought refuge in India

Amit Shah's statement follows a recent influx of Myanmar soldiers into India. Nearly 300 troops crossed the border seeking refuge from armed insurgents. The soldiers were reportedly carrying arms and ammunition and were accommodated in the Bondukbangsora village. Amit Shah asserted that the Indian government has decided to protect the India-Myanmar border effectively.

Clashes Escalate in Myanmar

Clashes in Myanmar, particularly near the Indian border, have escalated since the Arakan Army (AA) initiated attacks on security forces in November. This marked the end of a ceasefire that had largely held since the 2021 military coup. The AA announced its takeover of the major town of Paletwa and six military bases along the India-Myanmar border.

Why were Myanmar soldiers seeking refuge?

The influx of Myanmar soldiers into India is attributed to the heightened conflict since the ceasefire termination in November. Reports suggest that these soldiers seek shelter in India to escape the ongoing fighting. The Indian border region has witnessed a significant number of Myanmar troops arriving since November 13, with the latest influx taking the total to 636.

Myanmar's ongoing crisis

Myanmar plunged into a crisis following the military coup in February 2021, where the generals seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. By November 2023, Myanmar's military regime acknowledged facing "heavy assaults" by anti-coup forces, leading to the control of several towns in border areas and numerous military outposts.