Newspaper Article 28/03/2023
On January 10, 2023, three Myanmar fighter jets accompanied by a gunship helicopter launched an air strike against rebel militant groups in Northern Myanmar and during the same campaign, militant hideouts on the Indian side were also targeted in Farkawn village in Mizoram’s Champhai district. The target was a training facility of the insurgent group Five Chin National Front (CNF). Two insurgents were killed during the raid on the Indian side while many were targeted on the Myanmar side as well. The incident has been confirmed by international media sighting local eyewitness accounts that the Myanmar junta jets dropped two bombs inside the Indian Territory during an airstrike on a prominent training camp for pro-democracy forces. The existence of such training camps in Indian Territory raises many questions about the Indian role in regional stability.
India has been one of the few countries to forcefully repatriate Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar despite a global outcry. Rohingyas are a Muslim ethnic group from Myanmar who sought refugee in India in 2019 when the previous regime cracked down against them. Indian ruling elite has vowed to eliminate all Indian Muslims how can it allow more Muslims to settle inside India? Indian action of repatriation of Rohingya was condemned by all human rights groups across the world. Later on more chilling evidence about Indian active involvement in Myanmar’s unrest came to the fore when the name of Modi’s close financial aid Gautam Adani surfaced for paying around $52 million to Myanmar Economic Corporation – a Myanmar-military owned company, sanctioned by the United States and other western powers for human rights abuses. The question remains what was the purpose of this payment?
Over 40,000 people have crossed over to India to flee the violence and are living in around 60 refugee camps across Mizoram. This is where Indian aid is being used by Myanmar’s military Janta. So on one hand, India is supporting so-called pro-democracy groups like CNF while at the same time also financing Myanmar’s military regime that has been put under sanctions by the USA and many other countries and global institutions for human rights abuses.
Myanmar, like India, is infected with protracted local insurgencies as various factions are fighting for independent states. India has been accused by international organizations of stirring trouble in Myanmar by becoming a partner of the current military regime in the country against pro-democracy groups.
This leads to the ultimate question; what is India’s end game in Myanmar?
India since long has been pursuing a strategy of becoming a regional hegemon and global player. India has been spending on its military might. A troubling aspect of this Indian strategic design is the regional instability that it has ushered. Almost all Indian borders are troublous and Myanmar is no exception in this regard. Though both India and Myanmar are partners in counter-insurgency and cooperation things are not as simple on the ground. Indian ruling elite and its partners are helping certain ethnic groups in Myanmar which is amplifying the human rights crisis inside that country along with more violence.
Myanmar’s coastline holds strategic significance due to its proximity to the Andaman Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and even the Malacca Strait in the South. Just like unrest in Baluchistan in Pakistan, India is fanning violence and insurgencies in Myanmar as well and the reason is the old Indian dream of strategic dominance in the region. Pakistan and China are close military partners with Myanmar and this is yet another reason why India is stirring trouble in that country by providing safe havens for insurgent groups and helping the military regime at the same time.
Note: This article appeared in Kashmir Watch, dated 28 March 2023.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent Institute’s policy.