R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Feb 2: Though Myanmar witnessed a dramatic development with the Army taking over power in a coup yesterday, the situation in the neighbouring country should not have any adverse affect on the North East region. This is the view expressed by senior officers of the Government of India.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that though a democratically elected Government was functioning in Myanmar, Army was too powerful and in the past also, the neighbouring country was under military rule for years.

Sources said military level coordination between India and Myanmar was very cordial for some time and the North East region of the country should not face any problem even after yesterday’s coup.

Sources pointed out that it was Myanmar Army, which launched an operation against the militant groups of North East in 2019, during which, the headquarters of the NSCN(K) and United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) at Taga were taken over.

“Though an elected Government was functioning in Myanmar at that time, the operation was launched by the Army,” sources said.

“Moreover, even during that time, there were reasons to believe that the elected Government had little control over the Army and without the approval of senior officers of the Army, the operation would not have been possible,” sources added.

Sources said that senior officers of the armed forces of both the countries have been meeting regularly for the last few years and the relation is likely to continue in future. Sources expressed the view that under the circumstances, even after the Army taking over powers, the militants would not have a free run in the neighbouring country.

Sources pointed out that for years Government of India distanced itself from Army ruled Myanmar. But the situation started changing from the late 1990s when India started reaching out to Myanmar as maintaining good relation with Myanmar is vital for India, particularly in view of the Act East Policy, through which, India is trying to open its doors to the South East Asian countries.

Replying to a question on whether the situation in Myanmar would adversely affect the implementation of Act East Policy, sources said, “we will have to wait and watch as the Army took over powers only yesterday and still we do not know how the situation develops. Government of India is keeping a close watch on the situation.”

Sources admitted that though India favours democracy, because of strategic reasons, India cannot isolate Myanmar even after the Army took over powers. If India distances itself from Army ruled Myanmar, not only the implementation of the Act East Policy would be affected, the possibility of China increasing influence over Myanmar cannot be ruled out. That is why, Government of India issued a guarded statement on the issue of Army taking over powers in Myanmar. A statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry on the issue said, “We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely.”