(Opinions expressed here are those of the author.)
One of least protected and highly porous international border in the world is the Indo-Myanmar border. A densely forested and hilly terrain with no clear marking between the two nations stretching over 1600 kms; lacking modern electrified and well lighted border fencing is a huge security threat to both the administrative and military establishments of India and Myanmar. The border security groups on either side must be appreciated for their dedication in protecting this dangerous and porous border against all odds. However, with respect to the growing security threats across the globe and in this region, both India and Myanmar needs to take much stronger action. The border adjoins the NE Indian sates of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram; all impacted with serious cross-border insurgency issues like the corresponding Myanmar provinces. The security agencies guarding the Indo-Myanmar border is grossly short staffed; with poor funding, lacks modern military gadgets, communication system and advance training and experience to work in such dense forest and hilly terrain compounded with ground problems such as poor intelligence coordination between Indo-Myanmar border agencies further jeopardizing national security for both nations. The poorly guarded border is a hot bed of several insurgent groups that are headaches for the security establishments of both India and Myanmar. Most of these groups operate on one side of the border and then cross over to the other side for safe refuge in the adjoining dense forests and remote frontier villages on either side. The border is an active hotbed of insurgent groups, human and wildlife traffickers, rampart prostitution, drug mafias, war lords and an important center for various cross border crimes like exchange of fake currencies, smuggling of contraband commodities, violent attacks on border villages and security agencies causing very high average annual death toll that is not disclosed by the government agencies or under reported due to remote localities. With a new democratic government being elected in Myanmar; both nations should enter into some formal agreement for joint border management, management and surveillance. It will be important to work towards establishing secure fencing in the region, develop regional infrastructure (building roads, railways, emergency landing strips, medical units, schools and bridges; initiate massive electrification programs, establish mobile towers and secure stringent satellite surveillance), increasing the presence of ground troops, strengthening military intelligence network in the region and encourage socio-economic development in the border region. The remote, rural, border communities should be made stakeholders in the security network by employing them as informers, trackers and engaging them in infrastructural development projects in the border region.
Saikat Kumar Basu