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India steps up border patrols to halt arrivals from Myanmar | India News

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NEW DELHI: Indian security forces stepped up patrols on the Myanmar border on Friday to prevent refugees from entering after some police officers crossed to escape on orders from the military junta there, authorities said.
“For now, we will not allow anyone to enter,” Maria Zuali, a senior government official in the Champhai district of Mizoram state, told Reuters by telephone.
The move follows the desertion at the border of some low-ranking Myanmar police officers who were unwilling to obey orders to suppress anti-junta demonstrations.
Myanmar’s military toppled a democratically elected government on February 1, sparking protests across the country that left more than 50 people dead. An army spokesman has not commented on the defectors from the police.
Indian soldiers and police patrolled the border on Friday.
In Serchhip district, senior official Kumar Abhishek said that eight people, including a woman and a child, had crossed the border and were being treated.
“We anticipate a few more to come,” he said.
Authorities were making preparations to house between 30 and 40 people, he said.
In total, some 30 Myanmar police officers and their relatives had crossed 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 entering despite intense patrols by Indian soldiers along a border that hugs the Tiau River that flows between forested hills.
“People come from different routes,” said the official, “the border is porous, it cannot be avoided.”
An Indian federal security official said the crossing police had said they did not want to carry out the army’s orders to quell the protests.
“They alleged that there are human rights violations and they were asked to shoot civilians,” said the official, who also requested anonymity.
The influx of such asylum seekers, particularly the police, puts India in a quandary due to New Delhi’s close ties with the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw.
For the past two years, the Tatmadaw has mounted operations at the request of India to drive insurgents along the northeastern border. India, for its part, gave Myanmar its first submarine last year.
“It’s a bit of a difficult situation for India because diplomatic balance is crucial,” the official said.
India’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to questions from Reuters about the scale of newcomers and what it intends to do with those who have already crossed.

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