KOLKATA: The Assam rifles (AR) is in the process of setting up more outposts along the porous Indo-Myanmar border to control the smuggling of contraband, drug-running and gun-running. The move is also aimed at checking the ‘unauthorised’ movement of people across the international border, an official in the army’s eastern command headquarters in Kolkata said.

Though AR is the country’s oldest paramilitary force and under the ministry of home affairs, it operates under the army. Apart from participating in counter-insurgency operations in the northeastern states, AR is also charged with managing India’s 1,643 kilometre-long border with Myanmar. This border stretches along Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Mizoram (510 km), Manipur (398 km) and Nagaland (215 km). While it is true that the force has nabbed sophisticated arms (primarily Chinese made) and drugs being smuggled across the border into India, the AR faces a problem as civilians from both sides are allowed free movement to a certain distance across each other’s borders.

According to a source, steps are being taken to strengthen the border after reports that Rohingyas are continuing to enter India in small groups despite a ban by the government. This movement is causing some tension along the bordering states. At the same time, India wants to clamp down on the cross movement of cadres of North East-based militant groups at a time when there is a considerable lull in insurgency-related violence there.

“As part of the process of strengthening the Indo-Myanmar border, AR has taken a number of steps to increase its presence in the remote border areas. It is now in the process of occupying number of additional locations along the border,” the eastern command official said.

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