More than 8,400 Myanmar refugees crossed over into India after the military coup in the country on February 1, the Centre told the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Ajay Bhatt, the minister of state for defence, provided the information in response to Biju Janata Dal MP Sasmit Patra’s question about how many infiltration attempts took place at India’s international borders this year. Patra also sought details about the number of infiltrators killed and apprehended by security forces.

“At the Indo-Myanmar Border, post military coup which came into effect from 01.02.2021, 8,486 Myanmar nationals/refugees crossed over into India, out of which 5,796 were pushed back and 2,690 are still in India,” the minister said.

Bhatt added that at the Indo-Pakistan Border, there were 33 infiltration attempts in the first six months of 2021. Eleven infiltrators were killed, while 20 were detained, he added.

There were 441 infiltration attempts at the Indo-Bangladesh border during the same period, the minister said. He added that one infiltrator was killed, while 740 were detained.

“In addition, 11 illegal infiltrators along Indo-Nepal Border have been apprehended in this year (upto 30.06.2021),” the minister said. “No cases of infiltration have been reported at [the] Indo-China Border.”

In July, the Human Rights Watch, citing media reports, had said that 16,000 Myanmar citizens crossed into Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland after the military coup.

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The international organisation added that Indian border guards had not pushed back arrivals from Myanmar and states in the North East were willing to rehabilitate them. However, the organisation said there was no clarity from the central government about the status of the refugees.

The Human Rights Watch had called on the Indian government to release all the detained asylum seekers from Myanmar. However, the Centre on Monday did not say how many Myanmar refugees were detained in India.

In one instance in March, 29 Myanmar refugees were arrested for reportedly entering India without the necessary documents. They were charged under the Foreigners Act. Two of them had died of Covid-19 in June while they were in judicial custody in Manipur, The Indian Express reported.

Manipur-based Human Rights Alert alleged that the two women died because of lack of medical attention and food. In July, the group had written a letter to Manipur Human Rights Commission, seeking a magisterial inquiry into the deaths.

Myanmar coup

The military coup in Myanmar on February 1 followed the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi in the national elections in November 2020, with the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party faring poorly in its key strongholds.

The country’s military refused to accept the government, citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. It was also announced that the coup was the result of the government’s failure to delay the November election despite the outbreak of Covid-19.

Security forces in Myanmar cracked down heavily on those who agitated against the coup, drawing global criticism. According to Human Rights Watch, security forces in Myanmar have killed more than 900 people and detained over 5,300 activists, journalists and politicians since February.