Ground report from Northeast: New strategy by India and Myanmar to flush out separatists

 Jaideep Mazumdar
Contd from previous issue
 “We are in constant touch with our counterparts across the border. We provide real-time satellite imagery to them,” says the Brigadier, whose designation in the Assam Rifles is that of a sector commander or DIG.
Drones are used frequently to track down militants and to locate their hideouts. And cameras equipped with night-vision capability are positioned at strategic places along the International Border.
“We have stepped up interaction with locals and have won them over. So we are getting a lot of valuable intelligence from them. Now, they come to us freely to provide us with information. They no longer help the rebels since they have lost the fear of the rebels due to the round-the-clock protection we provide to them. This has been possible with the induction of more troops,” said the Brigadier.
Unofficially, officers and men of the two armies cross over to each other's territories (with prior intimation, of course) to hold coordination meetings and exchange information. The bonhomie between the Indian Army and Assam Rifles with the Tatmadaw is apparent.
“We have even got very well acquainted with Myanmarese police officers posted in many areas along the border. We have been engaged in capacity-building for the Myanmarese security forces and they are extremely happy and grateful for that,” said the army officer at Leimakhong.
The operations room at the Assam Rifles battalion HQs looks like a war room with detailed contour maps not only of the Indian side, but also of areas deep inside Myanmar. All are marked with pinheads of various colours demarcating existing and destroyed camps of the NSCN(K) and other North East rebel outfits.
Officers frequently pore over those maps to plan coordinated operations or mark positions based on latest satellite images and footage from drones. High-tech communications systems help the officers maintain easy and instant links with the headquarters at Leimakhong and with their counterparts in Myanmar.
The Outcome
Indian Army officers say that the ULFA(I), NDFB(S), KLO and the Manipuri outfits have been rendered quite impotent.
“Myanmar was their last refuge and with their safe havens in that country destroyed, they are no longer potent. We have strengthened the security grids in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, and so even if they manage to return to their states undetected, they will not be able to operate there. These outfits are now fighting for their last breath and it is only a matter of time before they are completely defanged and neutralised,” said the officer stationed at the Eastern Command HQs in Kolkata.
Many ULFA(I) militants have surrendered and some have been shot dead by their fellow cadres while trying to escape their camps in Myanmar. The surviving ones have fled north to the areas contiguous to eastern Arunachal Pradesh inhabited by the Pangmi Nagas.
The surviving rebels of the Manipuri outfits fled from Taga to southern Sagaing bordering Manipur. But their infiltration into India will be very difficult, say army officers. The strategy is to prevent them from entering India and make them face the consequences in Myanmar. This time, the India Army is averse to taking prisoners or allowing the rebels to surrender. “These surrendered cadres pose problems later on,” said one army officer.
As for the NSCN(K), it is under tremendous pressure exerted by the Tatmadaw to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and fall in line. The Tatmadaw has made it clear to the NSCN(K) that it will have to sign the NCA, surrender its arms, move its cadres to designated camps guarded by the Myanmarese security forces, and sever all contacts with other rebel groups of North East India. The consequences of sheltering and helping rebels of other North East outfits will be grave, the NSCN(K) leadership has been told in no uncertain terms.
Courtesy : Swarajya