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‘India must bring in changes in its policy towards Myanmar’

New Delhi: India must end its “one-sided policy” of engaging only with the military junta in Myanmar, said Toe Kyaw Hlaing, a councillor in the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) of Myanmar, in an interview with Mint.

The NUCC functions as an advisory body to the exiled National Unity government, which was formed after the military overthrew the democratic government in February 2021.

Since the conflict began in 2021, New Delhi has maintained a cooperative relationship with the State Administration Council (SAC), the military regime.

“Our key message to the government of India is to stop recognizing or to stop legitimizing SAC and listen to the voices of the people of Myanmar, because nowadays in Myanmar anti-Indian sentiment is growing very fast,” said Hlaing.

Hlaing, who says he has been in contact with Indian officials, called on India to review its policy of providing military aid to the military regime.

According to the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, India has provided around $51 million in military aid to Myanmar since the military regime came to power. Indian officials insist that the aid is limited.

“We have engagement and cooperation with them, a neighbouring country, on various issues. Whatever actions we take are in the light of our interests,” said Arindam Bagchi, official spokesperson of the external affairs ministry at a press briefing in response to a query on India’s arms exports to Myanmar’s military junta.

“There has been movement of Myanmar nationals to the Indian side. We are deeply concerned with such incidents close to our border. Our position on the ongoing situation in Myanmar is very clear. We want cessation of the violence and the resolution of the situation through constructive dialogue. We reiterate our call for the return of peace, stability and democracy in Myanmar,” Bagchi said.

His comments came after thousands of refugees crossed into India from Myanmar last week after fighting erupted between the military and resistance forces in Chin state, which borders India.

Hlaing warned the fighting is likely to intensify, which could create increased migration to India. More than 30,000 refugees from Myanmar have found their way to India after the military coup in 2021.

Hlaing called on the Indian government to provide safe haven for the refugees.

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Updated: 16 Nov 2023, 11:02 PM IST

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