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Burmese military denies ‘terrorising’ Indian villagers

A view towards Indian territory from the Burmese side of the border near Tamu, Sagaing Division. (DVB)

A military official in the Sagaing Division border town of Tamu has rejected allegations that Burmese troops had crossed into India and terrorised local villagers.

Residents in the village of Holenphai in India’s Manipur state on Friday staged a protest accusing Burmese soldiers of vandalising a sawmill during an incursion onto Indian territory on 4 March. The protestors called for the Indian government to deploy security forces in the area, reiterating that they were living in fear of the Burmese army.

In response, a Burmese military official in Tamu said that the sawmill in question was destroyed because it was deemed illegally built in the vicinity of a disputed zone, a condition agreed upon by the two countries.

“We located an illegal sawmill in Holenphai village, within 10 metres of a disputed area,” said the official. “There is an agreement prohibiting the construction of buildings within 10 metres of the disputed area and the [sawmill] operators did not heed our warning not to set up there.”

Local demonstrators in Holenphai claimed that the Burmese troops burnt down the sawmill and seized equipment.

“We would like to live peacefully in our country but there is no security for us – we live in fear of the Burmese military,” said a local village leader.

The Burmese military officer said that various disputes remain regarding demarcation along the border between Burma and India, and that Burmese authorities have called on their Indian counterparts to send officials to the border to help specify a proper demarcation line, but they have yet to respond.

“We called on Indian officials about four months ago to help settle the demarcation lines, but they have not yet showed up,” said the officer.