Indian troops sent to Burma border

Oct 19, 2009 (DVB), An Indian paramilitary group has been ordered by Delhi to reinforce its border with Burma amid concerns over continued cross-border drugs and weapons smuggling, local news sources said.

An official from India's Ministry of Home Affairs was quoted by the Times of India as saying that Burmese militants currently enjoyed a "free run" along the border.

According to C S Kuppuswamy, from the Delhi-based South Asia Analysis Group, much of Burma's drugs trade is now being directed through its western borders to India and Bangladesh.

This follows concerted efforts by Thailand and China's border security forces to push the trade away from Burma's traditional eastern frontier exit points.

Kuppuswamy told DVB today that the Burmese junta is even "converting [profits from the drugs trade] into money and arms".

He added that drugs and weapons smuggling was "affecting [India's] north east, especially the health and security concerns [which] are increasing day by day".

Several insurgent groups operate in India's unstable northeastern states, which border China, Bangladesh and Burma, and are connected to the rest of India by a narrow strip of land.

Fresh tension between India and China has led to fears that much of the military hardware used by India's northeastern insurgents is coming from China via Burma.

This fear is compounded by the lawless nature of Burma's border region near to India, ruled largely by drug barons and warlords.

The news of Delhi's order comes only a week after India's military chief, General Kapoor, visited Burma in yet another bid for greater cooperation between the two countries in combating insurgencies.

Speaking to DVB last week, Kim of the Delhi-based Burma Centre said that "there have been a lot of complaints coming from the [Indian] military about the inaction of the [Burmese] junta" regarding the insurgencies.

The Burmese junta's nascent plan to create border security forces out of ceasefire groups has also raised concern in India. The government is said to be concerned that these groups, many of them ethnic insurgents themselves, will not be able to contain India's northeastern rebels.

Reporting by Joseph Allchin

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