Myanmar military aircraft overshoots runway in India, leaving 8 injured amidst repatriation efforts

The plane, tasked with repatriating soldiers who had sought refuge in India amidst the ongoing conflict in Myanmar, ended up with a cracked fuselage in a bushy area near the airport.

 A Myanmar military aircraft overshot the runway at Mizoram state’s Lengpui Airport in northeastern India on Tuesday, leaving at least eight individuals injured. The plane, tasked with repatriating soldiers who had sought refuge in India amidst the ongoing conflict in Myanmar, ended up with a cracked fuselage in a bushy area near the airport.

The injured, part of the 14 individuals on board, were slated to return to Myanmar after crossing into northeast India over the past two months. The soldiers had fled following clashes near the border, where anti-junta groups, supported by a pro-democracy parallel government, seized control of military posts and towns. Indian police and military officials revealed that the incident occurred during the aircraft’s attempted takeoff from the Lengpui Airport.

Footage from local media captured the damaged plane, emphasizing the severity of the overshoot. The unexpected turn of events adds another layer of complexity to the situation, as nearly 700 Myanmar soldiers have entered India in recent months, heightening concerns about tensions spilling over into Indian territories.

Indian authorities have been swift in repatriating the troops, with an Indian military source stating that 276 Myanmar soldiers entered the country last week after intense fighting near the border. Impressively, 184 of them had already returned home on Monday, underscoring India’s commitment to maintaining stability in the region.

The influx of Myanmar troops into India has been a consequence of the political turmoil and violence following the coup in Myanmar in 2021. The proximity of Indian states to the border, where communities share ethnic and familial ties with Myanmar, has made them a refuge for hundreds of civilians and troops seeking safety.

 For New Delhi, the situation has raised concerns about potential spillover effects on Indian soil. Home Minister Amit Shah, during a visit to India’s northeastern region on Saturday, expressed the government’s commitment to address these concerns. He announced plans to fence the entire 1,600-mile-long border with Myanmar and hinted at the possibility of ending the free movement of people between the two countries.

As tensions persist between the Myanmar junta and anti-junta forces, the incident involving the military plane explains the fragility of the situation. The mishap not only highlights the risks associated with the mass movement of soldiers but also draws attention to the broader geopolitical challenges faced by India in managing its borders amid regional conflicts.