India-Burma army car rally concludes

Narinjara News

Narinjara Correspondent,
Northeast India

The India-Burma army car rally culminates its journey after completing the round from New Delhi to Rangoon and again backs to Indian capital city. Inaugurated on December 5 in New Delhi, the rally crossed through various Indian states including UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Asom, Nagaland,Manipur and Burmese towns like Tamu, Kalewa, Monywa, Mandalay, Taungoo to reach Rangoon and then it returned back in the last week of December.

Meanwhile, the Burmese team had arrived Rangoon from New Delhi on Saturday. The Tatmadaw members of car rally team were 'welcomed back at the Yangon International Airport by Lt-Gen Myint Swe of Ministry of Defence, Chairman of Yangon Division Peace and Development Council Commander of Yangon Comand Brig-Gen Hla Htay Win, senior military officers and families of Yangon and Mingaladon Stations', reports 'The New Light of Myanmar', the national English daily on December 31, 2006.

Flagged off by Indian Defence Minister A K Antony at India Gate, the joint car rally was primarily organized to honour 20,000 martyr (soldiers) of India and Burma, who sacrificed their lives during the World War II while fighting under the British flag in Burma in 1942. Visiting Burmese Army general Thura Shwe Mann and Indian Army chief Gen JJ Singh with other senior officials were also present at the flag-off ceremony. "The rally is aimed for close cooperation between the two countries in general and the armed forces of India and Myanmar in particular," said Indian Defence Minister while inaugurating the rally.

Participated by the Indian and Burmese soldiers, the rally included 12 vehicles with 45 members including 12 Burmese Army personnel covered nearly 8000 kilometers from New Delhi to Yangon and back. In Rangoon , the team paid homage to the World War II martyrs, who were laid to rest at Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar and then they started return journey through the same route to enter India through Moreh in Manipur.

The civil society in India viewed the army car rally as a strategic move by New Delhi for enhancing diplomatic and armed relationship with the military rulers of Burma. The largest democracy in the world nurtures various socio-political organizations, which support the cause of Suu Kyi, but the government still pursues partnership with the SPDC. The Indian civil organizations are aware of the fact that SPDC is accused as one of the worst human rights violators in the globe and also directly responsible for keeping the pro-democracy Burmese icon Aung San Suu Kyi under detention for the last three years. Even though much of Indian and international organizations are tirelessly raising voice against the ties with the Burmese junta, New Delhi has been instating on liaison with SPDC because of its own arguments those are prompted by its national interest and obligation as well.

For most of the people living in India , Burma is a land of atrocities, human right violation and of course under notorious press censorship. The media in the country is not allowed to cover the activities of Nobel laureate and National League for Democracy chief Suu Kyi, who is serving house arrest since 2003. The news portal, who are traditionally critical to the military regime are banned in the country. The local media (mostly in Burmese) are tightlipped while reporting the ongoing atrocities and human rights violation by the military on the common people throughout the country. The foreign media correspondents based in Rangoon are kept under strict vigil by the authority and the only English daily of the country, 'The New Light of Myanmar' is run by the government, which is used simply as its mouthpiece.

New Delhi, though facing criticism from international communities for maintaining relationship with the present Burmese regime, cannot afford to snap ties primarily for three reasons. First, Burma can play an important role in realizing India's Look East policy, where New Delhi proposes land connectivity with various South East Asian countries like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam (through Burma) for trades. Secondly, the government of India is very much concerned with the presence of Northeast based insurgents in northern Burma . It believes that many armed outfits namely NSCN (both K and IM factions), ULFA, PLA, PREPAK, UNLF, KYKL, KCP etc run their training camps inside the jungles of Burma and also use the neighbouring country as their safe hide outs. Thirdly, New Delhi remains equally concerned with more and more Chinese presence in Burma. With an aim to prevent China's involvement in Burma that leads to geo- strategic implications for India, New Delhi wants to involve the military rulers in greater economic cooperation.