New Delhi: As part of multiple initiatives to boost ties between India and its key eastern neighbour Myanmar, the two sides on Monday discussed plans to install a bust of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Mandalay to commemorate his 100th death anniversary. During his incarceration in Mandalay jail, Lokmanya Tilak wrote ''Gita Rahasya'', an exposition of the Bhagavad Gita.
The Myanmar side expressed appreciation for Indian assistance in the preservation of cultural heritage, including the repair and conservation of Bagan pagodas that had been damaged in the 2016 earthquake.
The matters figured at the talks during the two-day visit of Chief of Army Staff, Gen. M M Naravane and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to Myanmar on Sunday and Monday.
Other areas of cooperation in culture discussed included translation of Indian epics into the Burmese language.
In a crucial success vis-a-vis ''maintenance of security and stability'' in border areas, Myanmar on Monday handed over "22 cadres of Indian Insurgent Groups to India".
"The two sides discussed the maintenance of security and stability in their border areas and reiterated their mutual commitment not to allow their respective territories to be used for activities inimical to each other. The Indian side expressed their appreciation to Myanmar for handing over 22 cadres of Indian Insurgent Groups to India," an MEA statement said.
It may be pointed out that crucial diplomatic engagement with Myanmar came within days after September 28 when the centre extended a ban on the Naga militant group NSCN (Khaplang) and also said that the group had been engaged in "unlawful and violent activities".
The Home ministry notification also said the NSCN-K is continuously embarking on a drive for the recruitment of cadres to continue its terrorist activities, establishing camps and hideouts across the international borders. The NSCN (K) is also aligning itself with other groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and some organisations in Manipur.
During the visit, Gen Naravane and Foreign Secretary Shringla also met Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the Commander in Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
The military-civil wing (foreign ministry) diplomatic initiative was vital given certain sensitivity and strategic importance attached to the relations between two countries.
"Glad to read composite team under COAS Gen Naravane & Foreign Secy Shringla visiting Myanmar for wide discussions. Very appropriate keeping in view the neighbouring political structure in neighbouring nation. Turfs have no place except making available knowledge/experience for national interests," former army chief Gen (Retd) Ved Malik has said in a tweet.
During the visit, in yet another milestone, India announced a grant of USD 2 million for the construction of the border haat bridge at Byanyu/Sarsichauk in Chin State that will provide increased economic connectivity between Mizoram and Myanmar. A quota of 1.5 lakh tonnes of Urad for import from Myanmar by India till March 31, 2021, was also announced.
The Centre of Excellence in Software Development and Training in Myitkyina was virtually inaugurated. Foreign Secretary also inaugurated the Embassy Liaison Office in Nay Pyi Taw along with U Soe Han, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar.
Meanwhile, sources said India as a close friend, partner, and neighbour of both Bangladesh and Myanmar "has a deep and abiding interest" to see an early stabilization of the situation in the Rakhine State. India supports safe, sustainable, and speedy repatriation of displaced persons from Bangladesh to Rakhine State based on the understanding between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Indian government is also extending socio-economic development assistance for projects pertaining to health, education, agriculture, and allied activities to Rakhine State through a grant-in-aid of USD 5 million per annum.
Myanmar appreciated India'sIndia's decision to provide debt service relief under the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, for the period up to December 31, 2020.
Both sides also discussed progress in the ongoing Indian-assisted infrastructure projects such as the Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. They exchanged views on early initiation of work on fresh initiatives such as the up-gradation of Yamethin Women'sWomen's Police Academy, Basic Technical Training School and measures to provide long term sustainability to projects.
They also agreed to work towards operationalisation of Sittwe Port in the Rakhine State in the first quarter of 2021.