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Indian PSU Sold Air Defence Station to Myanmar Junta in July: Activists' Forum

The Bharat Electronics Limited shipment in July “included a gun mount and an optical device".

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New Delhi: Indian public sector unit (PSU) Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has exported a remote-controlled air defence station to Myanmar this July, an activists’ forum that monitors the Junta’s arms purchases has claimed, citing a New York-based global data trade company. The BEL falls under the Indian Ministry of Defence.

According to a news report in The Irrawaddy, the deal between the Junta and the arms manufacturer – of which the India government is the majority shareholder – was confirmed by the activist forum Justice for Myanmar (JFM).

The JFM, on October 5, had quoted the New York-based global trade data company Panjiva to claim that the BEL shipment was carried out through a Myanmar-based company, Mega Hill General Trading Co. The news report said Mega Hill, as per its website and the leaked data, “has procured or attempted to procure items for Myanmar’s Navy.”

As per Panjiva, the BEL shipment in July “included a gun mount and an optical device”.

The news report quoting JFM said, “The shipment (by BEL) was made with full knowledge that the item can aid and abet the military’s ongoing atrocities.”

Citing the JFM statement that BEL “has made multiple shipments to Myanmar’s military for a coastal surveillance system since February 1 coup,” the report added, “The JFM said BEL has not responded to questions on its ongoing arms supplies to Myanmar’s military.”

As per the JFM, the listed value of the BEL’s air defence shipment is over $600,000 “and was probably purchased as a test run, potentially leading to a larger future purchase”.

The news report also highlighted that a month before the BEL shipment was exported to Myanmar, the Indian government abstained from voting on a UN general assembly resolution seeking a ban on arms sales to Myanmar.

JFM’s latest statement is a continuation of a statement released in June, in which it had said that BEL till then had sent to the Myanmarese military at least seven shipments which included electro-optic systems, radar video extractor receivers, VHF communications systems, graphics processors, workstation hardware, server storage and batteries.

Also read: ‘Everything Has Been Destroyed’: Myanmar Artists on the Coup’s Impact

As per a news report then, JFM spokesperson Yadanar Maung, in a statement accompanying the June report, had said that the Indian government “is awarding legitimacy to the junta through BEL’s business in Myanmar, enabling the junta’s nationwide campaign of terror against the people of Myanmar”.

In August, an AFP report quoting an activist group had said that more than 1,000 civilians had lost their lives since the February 1 coup in Myanmar.

India shares a 1,643-km-long border with Myanmar. In the last few months, several people from the border areas of that country have slipped into the Indian side, particularly to Mizoram, because of the Myanmarese military’s action on civilians and the ongoing clash with armed groups fighting for reinstatement of democracy in that country since the coup that toppled the Aung San Suu Kyi led elected government.