India intends to build a border wall along its large and porous border with Myanmar and will cancel a free movement border zone agreement, Indian media reported Sunday. India’s Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement came after hundreds of Myanmar troops crossed into India.
During his visit to the northeastern province of Assam on Saturday, Shah stated that the government has “decided to fence the entire open India-Myanmar border”.
The boundary runs over 1,200 kilometres (750 miles), from secluded jungle to soaring snow-capped Himalayan mountains. Shah, who did not specify a timetable or how the border wall would be built, said the government would terminate a free movement arrangement.
The agreement allows people living in border zones to travel short distances into each other’s jurisdiction without a visa.
Many people living along the border have strong cultural and religious ties. “We are going to end this facility,” Shah declared, according to a video from the Times of India.
According to government statistics for 2021, India has already fenced approximately 2,000 km of its border wall with Pakistan and at least 3,100 kilometres with Bangladesh.
Parts of Myanmar near the Indian border have seen frequent battles since November, when Arakan Army (AA) militants attacked security troops, breaking a ceasefire that had largely held since a 2021 military coup.
In October, an alliance of AA insurgents and other ethnic minority fighters launched a coordinated offensive throughout northern Myanmar, seizing key trading hubs near the Chinese border.
The alliance established a truce earlier this month but does not apply to areas near the Indian border, where combat continues.