YANGON — India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday denied claims reported in Indian media that boundary pillars along the border between the country’s Manipur state and Myanmar had been shifted.
He dismissed as false a report that a border dispute had arisen over a border pillar allegedly installed by Myanmar authorities in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district.
“The reports are completely baseless and unsubstantiated. This sector of the international boundary is settled and there is no confusion as to its alignment,” ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a statement.
According to Indian media reports, Myanmar authorities on June 22 erected a “border pillar No. 81” at least 3 km inside Indian territory at Kwatha Khunou in Tengnoupal district. Indian media reported that local residents had made the allegations with the support of local politicians and social workers. They claimed the Manipur government gave away Indian territory to Myanmar to appease the “pro-China” government in New Delhi.
The pillar was erected about 5 miles from the Nan Phar Lone border market in Myanmar’s Tamu Township. With the controversy flaring among local residents on both sides of the border, Tengnoupal district authorities prohibited gatherings of five or more people carrying weapons at night for a period of six months in some parts of the sub-division under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code.
The Manipur State Congress Party criticized Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh for failing to take action over the alleged incursion by the Myanmar government.
The spokesperson said that routine joint survey work had been carried out recently by the Indian and Myanmar survey departments, during which work had been done to construct subsidiary pillars in between the already settled main boundary pillars 81 and 82 along the “zero line”, the agreed and settled international boundary.
The survey was done with the objective of apprising local residents on both sides of the border of the exact alignment of the international boundary. The survey is in accordance with the provisions of the India-Myanmar Boundary Agreement of 1967, to which both governments are fully committed, the spokesperson said.
“The allegation came from the local people; both sides investigated the issue. We found that the allegation was wrong. Myanmar didn’t encroach on Indian territory,” said U Mg Mg Latt, an Upper House lawmaker representing Tamu Township.
This is not the first time that local people have raised these allegations. Myanmar has experienced this several times in the past. The pillar was in the exact position that both sides agreed a long time ago. It is business as usual on the border, except for the prohibition order from 7 pm to 4 am near the border area, he added.
The Myanmar-India border stretches for over 1,600 km. Myanmar shares the border with four northeast Indian states: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur.