India Steps Up Border Patrols To Stop Arrivals From Myanmar

Myanmar’s military overthrew a democratically-elected government on February 1, setting off protests.

New Delhi:

Security forces stepped up patrols on the border with Myanmar on Friday to stop refugees entering after some police officers crossed over to escape taking orders from the military junta there, officials said.

“As of now, we are not letting anybody enter,” Maria Zuali, senior government official in Mizoram’s Champhai district, told Reuters by telephone.

The move follows the defection over the border of some low-ranking Myanmar police officers who were unwilling to obey orders to suppress demonstrations against the junta.

Myanmar’s military overthrew a democratically-elected government on February 1, setting off nationwide protests that have left more than 50 people dead. A spokesman for the military has not commented on the police defectors.

Soldiers and police were patrolling the frontier on Friday.

In Serchhip district, senior official Kumar Abhishek said eight people, including a woman and a child, had crossed the border and were being taken care of.

“We are anticipating that some more may come,” he said.

Authorities were making preparations to house between 30-40 people, he said.

In all, about 30 Myanmar police and their family members had crossed over into India in recent days, a senior police official in Mizoram said, including some who had come overnight.

The official, who requested anonymity, said people were slipping in despite intensive patrolling by soldiers along a border that hugs the Tiau river flowing between forested hills.

“People are coming from different routes,” the official said, “The border is porous, you can’t prevent it.”

A security official said that police crossing over had said they did not wish to carry out orders from the military to quell the protests.

“They alleged that there are human rights violations and they were asked to shoot at civilians,” the official said, also requesting anonymity.

“It’s a little difficult situation for India because diplomatic balance is crucial,” the official said.

India’s foreign ministry did not respond to questions from Reuters on the scale of recent arrivals and on what it intends to do with those who have already crossed over.

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