India deports Myanmar nationals who fled fighting

The country is also erecting a 1,020-mile-long fence along its border with Myanmar as conflict there continues to displace thousands

India on Friday began deporting dozens of Myanmar nationals who had fled a recent surge in fighting between the ruling junta and rebels in a border region, a top state official said.

“First batch of Myanmar nationals who entered India illegally deported today,” N. Biren Singh, chief minister of Manipur State, which borders Myanmar, said in a post on social media platform X, without providing specific numbers.

A confidential government order seen by AFP said 77 Myanmar nationals, including 51 women and five children, were to be repatriated between March 8 and 11.

“Although India is not signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has given shelter & aid to those fleeing the crisis in Myanmar on humanitarian grounds with a systematic approach,” Singh said.

Thousands of civilians have fled the fighting in Myanmar, crossing into India’s remote northeastern state of Manipur.

Singh posted a video showing the Myanmar nationals, mostly women and children, being sent away.

The deportation comes a month after the Indian government called for an immediate end to a free movement border agreement with Myanmar that allowed residents living in border zones to venture a short distance into their neighbouring nation’s territory without a visa.

India is also erecting a 1,020-mile-long fence along the porous border with Myanmar through remote jungles and snow-capped Himalayan peaks.

Many in the border zones, including Manipur, share close cultural and religious ties with people in Myanmar.

More than 200 people have been killed since last May in Manipur in clashes between the predominantly Hindu Meitei majority and mainly Christian Kuki community.

Many of those who have fled to India from Myanmar share ethnic ties with the Kukis.

Parts of Myanmar near the Indian border have seen frequent clashes since Arakan Army fighters attacked security forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since a 2021 military coup.

Hundreds of soldiers were among those who had fled Myanmar and crossed over to India to escape the fighting.

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