Bilateral International Relations Multilateral

Rohingya trafficking: vigil up on Myanmar border

The news:

  • To counter human trafficking of Rohingyas, the Assam Rifles have beefed up security measures, sealing all the unauthorized gates along the India-Myanmar border.


News Summary:

  • Recently, cases of trafficking of Rohingya boys and girls in Manipur as well as illegal camps established by National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) insurgents were detected.
  • In response, the Assam Rifles have sealed the border between Manipur and Myanmar, expect for two international gates (Indo-Myanmar friendship gates I and II) used by people on both sides for trade and social visits.
  • The border force Assam Rifles have asked the local people to travel with proper identity proof to and from Moreh, Manipur’s border trade town.
  • This step was taken despite the fact that the bilateral agreement between India and Myanmar allows local residents of both countries are allowed to travel up to 16 km from the border without travel documents.
  • Officials noted that this measure’s been taken due to security requirement based on inputs about possible trafficking of people and movement of extremists,


About Indo- Myanmar Border

  • Myanmar shares an almost 1,600 km border with India.
  • Indian states sharing the border with Myanmar: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur.
  • The two countries has signed an agreement on opening of international entry-exit checkpoints at the Tamu-Moreh and the Rihkhawdar-Zowkhawtar border between Myanmar and India.
  • The paramilitary Assam Riffles has the responsibility of guarding the Indo-Myanmar Border.


Security Challenges along the Indo-Myanmar Border

  • The normality of crossing the border:
    • The insurgents from India can easily cross the international border and hide in the neighbouring Myanmar.
    • The shelter and support that the Indian insurgent groups receive from across the border have been one of the most important factors which has helped them in sustaining their rebellion even when faced with the superior might of the Indian security forces.


  • Gun running and drug trafficking across the India-Myanmar border:
    • Besides cross border movement of insurgents, rampant gun running and drug trafficking are other significant security challenges emanating across the India-Myanmar border.
    • The Indian insurgent groups have been procuring arms from the black markets of Southeast Asia as well as from Myanmar-based rebel groups


  • Narcotics and the ‘Golden Triangle’:
    • Proximity to Myanmar in the ‘Golden Triangle’ makes the India-Myanmar border vulnerable to trafficking of heroin and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) produced in Myanmar.
      • Note: The Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia is the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers. It lies at the heart of the global heroin trade, accounting for roughly 60 percent of all illicit opium production.


  • The Free Movement Regime:
    • The FMR permits the tribes residing along the border to travel 16-km across the boundary without visa restrictions.
    • While the FMR has helped the tribes continue maintain their age old ties, it has also become a cause of concern for the security establishment as its provisions are exploited by the Indian insurgents to cross over to Myanmar unrestricted and establish safe havens.


  • The terrain of the India-Myanmar border
    • The terrain of the India-Myanmar border is rough, which does not lend itself easily to the construction of means of transportation and communication, and as a result, it also hamper the easy and rapid movement of the border guarding forces along the border.


Significance of Indo- Myanmar Border:

  • India-Myanmar-Thailand highway: India, Myanmar, and Thailand are working on the trilateral India-Myanmar-Thailand highway, which will link Moreh in Manipur (India) via Mandalay city (Myanmar) to Mae Sot in Thailand. The highway is considered an important land route to connect India with Southeast Asia and beyond.
  • Infrastructure projects in Myanmar: Indo-Myanmar border gives a boost to the Indian involvement in Myanmar, especially in the field of infrastructure, for example Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which will allow for sea-access for the landlocked Northeastern states of India.
  • Act-East Policy: Closer connectivity with Myanmar is essential for the success of India’s “Act-East Policy.
  • Tourism in Northeast India: The Indo-Myanmar land border will help in the growth of tourism in Northeast India and Myanmar, including medical tourism.

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