(This News Article Is Originally Posted on Hindustan Times by HT Correspondent)
India said on Friday it had received a letter from Myanmar’s military administration outlining reasons for the removal of the elected government, even as New Delhi continued to engage with other players on the fallout of the February 1 coup.
Defying the military government’s call to halt mass gatherings, hundreds of thousands joined pro-democracy demonstrations across Myanmar on Friday. At several places, anti-coup protesters clashed with police, though protests by more than 100,000 people in Yangon were largely peaceful.
Friday’s protests were the largest so far and came a day after US President Joe Biden imposed new sanctions against the top military officials who ordered the coup that removed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Yes, we have received the letter and I believe such a letter has also been sent to other governments,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a news briefing, referring to the letter sent to India by Myanmar’s military administration. He didn’t give details of the letter or India’s response to it.
Srivastava said India had already made its position clear soon after the coup on February 1. “We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld,” he said.
“As immediate neighbours with close cultural and people-to-people ties as well as relations strengthened by exchanges in trade, economy, security and defence, we are closely monitoring developments in [Myanmar]. We will remain engaged with all concerned on this issue,” he added.
The developments in Myanmar figured in telephone conversations between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Biden on February 8 and external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his US counterpart Antony Blinken on February 9. “India and the US have agreed to remain in contact and exchange assessments on the situation,” Srivastava said.
On Thursday, Jaishankar and his Australian counterpart Marise Payne discussed the situation in Myanmar, reflecting the growing coordination between the four members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad on the issue.
Blinken discussed ways to strengthen cooperation with allies and partners of the US to address the coup in Myanmar during a phone call with Japanese foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Wednesday.
While the US has adopted a tough position on Myanmar in line with Biden’s approach of upholding democratic norms, India has adopted a more cautious position because of security concerns linked to its north-eastern states. India has close ties with both the civilian and military leadership of Myanmar, and the security relationship between the two sides is crucial to tackling militancy in the north-eastern states.