11 July 2024

New Delhi, India – India plans to erect a fence along its vast and porous frontier with Myanmar and will scrap a free movement border zone agreement, Indian media reported Sunday.

The announcement by Home Minister Amit Shah comes after hundreds of troops from Myanmar who were fleeing insurgent attacks crossed into India. The government had “decided to fence the entire open India-Myanmar border”, Shah said Saturday during a visit to the northeastern state of Assam.

The frontier stretches for more than 1,200 kilometres (750 miles), ranging from remote jungle to soaring snow-capped Himalayan peaks. Shah, who gave no details of a timeframe or how the fence would be built, said the government would also end a free movement agreement.

The deal allows those living in border zones to venture a short distance into each other’s territory without a visa.

Many in the border zones share close cultural and religious ties. “We are going to end this facility,” Shah said, according to a video posted by the Times of India.

India has already fenced more than 2,000 kilometres of its border with Pakistan, and at least 3,100 kilometres with Bangladesh, according to government statistics from 2021.

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

In October, an alliance including AA insurgents and other ethnic minority fighters launched a joint offensive across northern Myanmar, seizing vital trade hubs on the Chinese border.

Earlier this month, the alliance announced a China-mediated ceasefire, but it does not apply to areas near the Indian border, where fighting continues.

by Agence France-Presse