Accepted Paper:

The politics of 'shifting' borders: contestations at the Indo-Myanmar border  


Sumitra Thoidingjam (Jamia Millia Islamia)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will look at recent developments in the Indo-Myanmar border and its implications on India’s border security.

Paper long abstract:

The Politics of 'Shifting' Borders: Contestations at the Indo-Myanmar border

On June 4, 2015, an Indian army convoy was ambushed in Manipur by a coalition of insurgents from Manipur and Myanmar. The Indian army retaliated with a cross-border operation destroying rebel camps in Myanmar. Apart from photographs of the charred remains of the Indian army personnel killed in the attack, the ambush itself and counter-attack remain shrouded in mystery. Why was the ambush carried out? What were the rebels' demands? Who stands to benefit from the ambush? Till date, no one can answer any of these pertinent questions.

These developments at Indo-Myanmar border warrant thorough investigation and transparency. One also needs to keep in mind that the Indo-Myanmar border is home to some of the oldest insurgency movements in the world. Therefore, the region is heavily militarized. For example, in Manipur the ration of paramilitary to civilians is 6:1, without accounting for cadres from the armed insurgency groups. More troops are being planned for deployment to 'protect' the region. The people see this as the Indian government's move of 'securing the territory'. It is against this backdrop that the paper seeks to investigate

• Shifting borders owing to Myanmar's politico-economic liberalization

• Act/Look East Policy vis-à-vis growing troubles in the northeastern states and the Indo-Myanmar border

• The history of contestations, insurgency and counter-insurgency strategies at the Indo-Myanmar border

• The implications of shifting borders in terms of India's border security and for the people who live on the border.

Panel P21
South Asia's changing security environment