Statement came after Myanmarese media outlet cited CDF-Paletwa official saying troops entered Shwe Lite Wa village with weapons ‘on grounds of inspecting border stone’ on 13 March.

Guwahati: The Assam Rifles on Wednesday denied allegations that a patrol entered a border village of Myanmar in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township, saying its soldiers were engaged in “routine border point verification” inside the Indian territory.

The place where the incident happened is said to be “within walking distance” from the border near Siaha district in southern Mizoram.

Photographs released on the Facebook page of The Mindat Post, a Myanmarese news agency covering the southern part of Chin State, on 13 March showed Indian personnel allegedly in a village near Kyauk Tai or the boundary stone along the India-Myanmar border in Mizoram. It was also alleged that shots were fired in the area as the troops retreated.

In a statement, the Assam Rifles stated that a routine border point verification of Border Points 15 and 16 was carried out on 13 March. “The party conducted the verification and returned. No rounds were fired during the conduct of BP verification and the party had not crossed India-Myanmar border,” it read.

Earlier, The Mindat Post quoted a Chinland Defence Force-Paletwa (CDF-Paletwa) official saying that troops of the Assam Rifles “entered the territory of CDF Paletwa base in Myanmar’s Shwe Lite Wa village with full weapons, on grounds of inspecting the border stone.”

Further, the report mentioned that Indian troops “have repeatedly entered Paletwa Township”. “During the third week of January, there was a full armed entry into the CDF-Paletwa area,” it read.

The Chinland Defence Forces are civilian defence militias fighting Myanmar’s military regime.

Meanwhile, a representative of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) — a government-in-exile formed in opposition to the junta — told The Print that “the matter has been reported to the Indian authorities and the case has been solved.”

Strategic location

Sources on both sides told The Print that cadres of the Khumi People’s Defence Forces (Khumki PDF) operate just about 2 km near the BP 15 in Myanmar, and the Myanmar Army outpost is also located nearby. There have been reports of frequent clashes between the two in this area.

Paletwa Township has been a battleground in the conflict between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military. According to a report, Paletwa has a population of more than 100,000 people, of whom about 90,000 are of Khumi descent. Ethnic Rakhine are the second-largest group, and there are also a number of other, smaller ethnic groups.

It is also a strategic location for the Indian government that hopes to complete the delayed Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project in Myanmar, considered crucial for New Delhi’s ambitious Act East Policy. The project involves the construction of a road from Paletwa in Myanmar to Zorinpui in India’s Mizoram.

On 23 February, Myanmar Junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing visited the Kaladan project site. The Irrawaddy reported him calling India a good neighbor and friend, and demanding rapid completion of the project.

The clashes in recent times have led to an influx of people from Myanmar into India with hundreds taking shelter in Khaikhy and Lungpuk villages of Mizoram’s Siaha district, sources added.

In January last year, the Assam Rifles confiscated Kyat (Myanmar currency) worth over Rs 4 lakh in Indian currency in Khaikhy village of Siaha, and apprehended a person on charges of smuggling foreign currency.

In Mizoram, the quiet life at the border villages has been occasionally disturbed by the sound of bombings over the Tiao river which serves as the natural boundary between India and Myanmar.

On 10 and 11 January, two air raids by the junta targeted Camp Victoria, the headquarters of the Chin National Army (CAN) in western Myanmar, about 10 km from Farkawn village in Mizoram. Five people, including two women, were killed and 12 others injured in the bombings.

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