New Delhi, Oct 24
Changing the status quo in guarding of Myanmar border would be a setback for operations against North Eastern insurgent groups based in Myanmar, the Army has said opposing the Union Home Ministry’s proposal to merge Assam Rifles with the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
The Assam Rifles is a paramilitary force under the operational control of the Army but its budget allocation comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Sources said that citing recent operations against North-East insurgent groups in Myanmar, the Indian Army and Assam Rifles have concerns over the proposed change.
In a recent communication to MHA from Assam Rifles it was stated that the force must remain under the operational control of the Army specifically mentioning joint operations with Myanmar army to flush out insurgent groups across the borders, said an army source privy to the developments.
It is feared that changing the status quo and merging Assam Rifles with the ITBP would be a setback for Operation Sunrise against the Myanmar based North Eastern insurgent groups.
The Army and Assam Rifles have carried out two phases of Operation Sunrise this year in close coordination with the Indian Army target camps of insurgent groups in Myanmar.
It has been clearly mentioned that close cooperation between Indian and Myanmar Army resulted in the success of Operation Sunrise against North East insurgents.
Sources said these operations to flush out militants from border areas in Myanmar will continue if there are inputs of groups making efforts to revive. Named Operation Sunrise, the strategy is aimed at hitting militant groups that are impacting both India and Myanmar.
The first phase of this operation was launched in February when several camps were destroyed in Myanmar close to the border both in the North and South closer to Mizoram in India and the second phase was in May and June.
After facing heavy losses following coordinated operations by the Myanmar and Indian armies forcing the Naga rebel group NSCN(K) to shut camps in Taga, Myanmar, the faction is again regrouping to take control of the lost ground, intelligence reports indicate.
Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) or NSCN (K) has been giving orders for reopening of the base area and Council Headquarters at Taga seriously.
Myanmar Army has been actively dominating that area since then as there is a good working mechanism between both armies. Any change in the deployment of forces on our side can impact this, said a source.
There have been a series of proposals to bring Assam Rifles under the operational control of MHA by merging it with ITBP. This would mean ITBP that is currently responsible for guarding the Indo-China frontier will be deployed at the Myanmar border.
Army, on the other hand, has been pushing for operational control of the ITBP since it’s the Army that is responsible for maintaining the sanctity of the Line of Actual Control.