Indian engineer died of heart attack: Chin State government

By Chit Min Tun
04 November 2019
Indian engineer died of heart attack: Chin State government
Photo: Arakan Army

An Indian citizen who was held by the Arakan Army (AA) insurgent group died from a heart attack, according to the Chin Government.

He was one of 10 people abducted by the AA in this latest incident. 

“An Indian citizen, 60 years old, died when they are climbing a mountain,” Minister of Municipal, Power and Industry Department U Soe Htet told Mizzima.

The victim was Mr. Vinoo Gopal and he was construction advisor. His body will be carried from Sittwe to Yangon by air.

The AA is still said to be holding Chin State Upper House MP U Hwai Tin but they released the rest of the group on November 4 morning. 

MP U Hwai Tin, five India citizens from EPI and RPP Companies which are implementing the Kalatan Project, two translators and two speedboat drivers were traveling from Paletwa to Kyauktaw on November 3 morning but they were abducted by the AA.

AA Information officer Khaing Thu Kha said he didn’t think that the death of an Indian citizen would cause a problem between the Indian Government and their group.

“We briefly brought him for questioning but he was out of breath. He has diabetes and hypertension. He said us that he had suffered from heart disease. He began to have laboured breathing. Our medical officers tried to save his life but in vain,” Khaing Thu Kha said.

Minister Soe Htut said that Myanmar will address the Indian citizen's death case through diplomatic channelc between Myanmar and India.

At the moment, the Indian ambassador has asked for the Myanmar Government to allow their citizens to safely return to India and the dead body will be transferred to his home country, he said.

The State Government, Ministry of Defenc and the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) will seek to release U Hwai Tin, he added. 

Khaing Thu Kha accused U Hwai Tin of collecting information and data about the AA for the Myanmar Army.

“U Hwai Tin was working for the army. He recruited the ethnic Khu Me youths to receive

AA’s information for the army. So, we have still detained him. Moreover, he was inciting between Khu Me and Rakhine ethnic people  to prompt conflicts in Paletwa township,” he said.

But he also said they will keep him for investigation and hold him in safe conditions so his life will not be at risk.

The AA is fighting against the Myanmar military in Platwa, Chin State, which is a part of region under the Kaladan project funded by India.

The independent ethnic affair observer Maung Maung Soe said: “I think it is not good to arrest irrelevant persons. The Indian's death could trigger conflict. Moreover, it could affect the two countries relationship. If they (AA) do not control their acts, more conflict is coming.”

Kaladan multi-model project is connecting Rakhine State, Chin State and Northeast of India by land and water. The US$450 million project is supported by India. The land and water project alongside Sittwe and Paletwa jetties, first suggested in 2008, is now underway after years of delay.

On March 30, AA arrested nine civilians working for two private companies under the development of Kaladan project and held them for four and a half months.

Moreover, AA have been detained 80 residents of Paletwa since October and civil society organisations and the Chin State government have been calling for their release.

In addition to that, an AA rocket hit cargo equipment for the Kaladan river bridge at Paletwa, causing a loss of US$327,360, according to a statement from the government.

Therefore, there are accusations that AA has been disrupting the Kaladan multi-modal project.

AA spokesperson Khaing Thu Kha denied the accusation “We ULA/AA does not object to international investment in the Rakhine area. If the project really benefits our people, we will welcome it. We don’t object to this Kaladan project. We have never said we will object. This battle is due to the offensive of the (government) military.”

Since 2018 November, the clashes between AA and the military have broken out in Chin State and northern Rakhine.

Due to fighting, there are over 50,000 displaced people in Rakhine State and 3,000 fled their homes in Chin State, according to Rakhine and Chin CSOs.