New Delhi: The Parliamentary Committee for external affairs has recommended the government to raise the issue of repatriation of illegal migrants with Myanmar government from time to time amid security issues between the two countries.
The committee made the recommendation in its 22nd report on India’s neighbourhood first policy, which also requested the government that the implementation of the development projects in Myanmar should not suffer on account of change in its political landscape.
The Committee also urged the centre to make consistent efforts towards insulating such projects from political turmoil and make all-out efforts for the timely completion of the ongoing projects.
In the report presented to the 17th Lok Sabha, the committee notes that Myanmar is a key partner for both India’s neighbourhood first policy and the Act East policy. It pointed out that the pace of new initiatives being taken with Myanmar has slowed down since 2020, firstly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then due to the political crisis that ensued after the military takeover of that country in February 2021.
“However, India has maintained its bilateral engagements with Myanmar with initiatives being finalized as and when feasible. The government of India has also been providing technical and financial support to set up Indo –Myanmar Industrial Training centres with two centres established in Pakkoku and Myingyan, and two more being set up in Monywa and Thaton," the report says.
The report highlighted that in 2022, India signed a project agreement for the establishment of a Modern Integrated Check post at Tamu. Out of 24 projects under Line of Credits, 21 projects have already been completed. The committee further noted that the security situation in the area has been a challenge for the progress of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit project and India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral highway, thereby, suggesting that the Indian development projects in the country should not be impacted by political turmoil.
“The committee desire that the institutionalized bilateral mechanism between India and Myanmar should be strengthened and boundary demarcation in the remaining sectors of India-Myanmar boundary should be completed at the earliest,” the report read.
It further urged the centre to make efforts to establish Integrated Checkpoint and land crossing station at the finalized locations. “The Committee also urged the government to speed up the process for establishing a framework for mode of operationalization of Border Haats and asked for progress achieved in this regard, to be communicated to the committee at the earliest”, the report said.
The committee in its report has recommended the government to raise the issue of illegal migrants with the Myanmar government at the highest level. “The MEA should work in close coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the state governments concerned for speedy identification and repatriation of illegal Myanmarese immigrants. Given the recurring instances of cross border terrorism, illegal migration, smuggling of fake currency, the committee desire that the bilateral institutional mechanism to check the same may be strengthened," it said.
It is pertinent to note that on July 16 this year, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met with his Myanmar counterpart Than Swe in Bangkok and discussed the disturbance in the common border in Manipur where reports of militants crossing it with heavy arms during the Meitei and Kuki ethnic clashes have come to the fore.
Jaishankar emphasized the need to ensure peace and stability in the border areas and also raised concerns about human and drug trafficking.