Myanmar asks India to return police officers who fled across border seeking refuge

A man rides his motorised two-wheeler across the Indo-Myanmar border bridge at the border town of Moreh, in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur.

Authorities in Myanmar have asked India to return several police officers who sought refuge to avoid taking orders from a military junta that seized power in the Southeast Asian country last month, an official in northeast India said on Saturday.

Around 30 Myanmar police and their family members came across the border seeking refuge in recent days, as the junta’s suppression of protesters has turned increasingly violent, with dozens killed since the February 1 coup.

The senior-most official in Champhai, a district in the Indian state of Mizoram, said that she had received a letter from her counterpart in Myanmar’s Falam district requesting the return of eight police “in order to uphold friendly relations.”

Deputy Commissioner Maria C.T. Zuali said on Saturday that she was “waiting for the direction” from the India’s Ministry for Home Affairs in New Delhi.

Although there have been instances recounted on social media of police joining the civil disobedience movement and protests against the junta, this is the first reported case of police fleeing Myanmar.

In the letter, Myanmar authorities said they had information on eight police personnel who had crossed into India. The letter listed details for four police, aged between 22 and 25 years, including a female officer.

“In order to uphold friendly relations between the two neighbour countries, you are kindly requested to detain 8 Myanmar police personnel who had arrived to Indian territories and hand-over to Myanmar,” the letter said.

India’s foreign ministry responded to a request for comment by referring to a statement given at a media briefing on Friday which said the ministry was still “ascertaining the facts.”

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