Episode: KPN 27-12-2021 Kaladan Radio
In the first high-level visit from India to Myanmar since the military junta took power, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla called for “return of democracy” at the “earliest” in the country and “complete cessation of all violence”.
Shringla was on a two-day working visit to Myanmar from December 22 to 23. He called on the Chairman, State Administrative Council, Senior General Min Aung Hliang and other senior representatives and held meetings with members of civil society and political parties.
Political leadership included the National League for Democracy, although India’s request to meet with its leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, was declined. Aung San Suu Kyi, along with senior leaders of her party, have been under detention since February 2021 after the military overthrew the democratically elected government led by her.
A statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said, “During his meetings with all concerned, Foreign Secretary emphasised India’s interest in seeing Myanmar’s return to democracy at the earliest; release of detainees and prisoners; resolution of issues through dialogue; and complete cessation of all violence.”
“He reaffirmed India’s strong and consistent support to the ASEAN initiative and expressed hope that progress would be made in a pragmatic and constructive manner, based on the five point consensus,” the statement added.
Shrinla also met Myanmar-based foreign envoys, and representatives of the UN.
India Today has learnt that the conversation with representatives of various countries focused on four clear aspects:
Shringla said that developments in Myanmar “affect us”. He also raised the issue of the influx of people from Myanmar into the northeastern states, especially in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the recent past, it is not just the Rohingyas who tried to enter India from Myanmar. According to reports, police personnel and others serving in Myanmar forces fled the country and took shelter in the North East states like Mizoram, Manipur.
“Foreign Secretary expressed India’s continued support for people-centric socio-economic developmental projects, including those along the India-Myanmar border areas, as well as India’s commitment for expeditious implementation of ongoing connectivity initiatives such as the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the Trilateral Highway,” said the MEA.
“Foreign Secretary also reiterated India’s commitment to continue with the projects under Rakhine State Development Programme and Border Area Development Programme for the benefit of the people of Myanmar,” the statement added.
Return to democracy
Foreign Secretary Shringla spoke of “path of dialogue movement”, emphasising India’s push for democracy to return to Myanmar. He also urged the administration to ensure cessation of violence and make efforts for normalcy and peace as part of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
During his visit to Myanmar, Foreign Secretary Shringla met and heard the views of a cross-section of representatives from the media, academia and think tanks on India-Myanmar relations and the current situation in Myanmar.
India raised the issue of recent killing of a Commanding officer of Assam Rifles, along with his wife and kid, in an ambush by militants in Churachandpur of Manipur. India emphasised that peace and security in the North East states are affected if there is instability in Myanmar.
“India shares an approximately 1700 km-long border with Myanmar. Any developments in that country have a direct impact on India’s bordering regions. Peace and stability in Myanmar remain of utmost importance to India, specifically to its North Eastern Region,” the MEA statement said.
“The visit also provided an opportunity to raise matters relating to India’s security, especially in the light of the recent incident in Churachandpur district in southern Manipur. Foreign Secretary stressed the need to put an end to any violence and maintain peace and stability in the border areas. Both sides reiterated their commitment to ensure that their respective territories would not be allowed to be used for any activities inimical to the other,” it added.
The administration in Myanmar assured Shringla that Myanmar’s soil would not be used for anti-India activities.
Humanitarian, Covid-related Assistance
Shringla also focused on humanitarian assistance and Covid-related assistance for the people of Myanmar.
“Emphasising that India shares a long border with Myanmar, Foreign Secretary conveyed India’s continued humanitarian support for the people of Myanmar. In the context of Myanmar’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, he handed over one million doses of “Made in India” vaccines to the Myanmar Red Cross Society,” MEA statement said.
“A part of this consignment would be utilized for communities living along Myanmar’s border with India. A grant of 10,000 tons of rice and wheat to Myanmar was also announced,” MEA statement added.
Shringla also gifted over 1 million doses of ‘Made in India’ vaccines to the representatives of the Myanmar Red Cross Society.
The foreign secretary expressed India’s continued support for people-centric socio-economic developmental projects, including those along the India-Myanmar border areas, as well as India’s commitment for expeditious implementation of ongoing connectivity initiatives such as the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the Trilateral Highway.
He also said that India remains committed to continue with the projects under Rakhine State Development Programme and Border Area Development Programme for the benefit of the people of Myanmar.