R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Feb 1 – Militants using the territory of Myanmar for years may soon face serious trouble as India and Myanmar have started the process of working out modalities for coordinated operations on both sides of the international border to trap them. However, the dates for launching of such operations are yet to be finalized.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune today that during the recent visit of the Union Home Secretary, the Government of Myanmar agreed to launch coordinated operations to flush out the militants. However, launching of such operations on both sides of the international border would require detailed plans primarily because of the terrain, while the exact location of the camps and bases of the militants would have to be identified. Moreover, as the security forces of Myanmar have very little presence in the areas where the militants have managed to establish camps, security build up would have to be carried out for launching of such operations.
Sources said that the Army has been asked to initiate process of talks with the Myanmar army to work out an action plan for launching of coordinated operations on both sides of the international border as it would not be possible for the police forces of the states having international border with Myanmar to launch such concerted operations.
Though the dates for launching such operations are yet to be finalized, sources said that efforts would be made to start operations before onset of the monsoon as it would be difficult to launch operations along the international border during the rainy season because of the terrain.
Commenting on the need for launching coordinated operations, the sources said that very often the militants cross over from India to Myanmar and vise versa whenever operations are launched in one country. “The idea is to trap them by launching coordinated operations on both sides of the international border. Moreover, coordinated operations with proper sharing of intelligence are required for the success of such offensive,” sources added.
Earlier in 2007, the Government of Myanmar agreed to launch such coordinated operations but nothing happened on the ground. However, this time India is hopeful that the Government of Myanmar would keep its word as the Indian delegation during the recent meeting found “the body language of the Government of Myanmar much more positive and they must have realized the fact that improvement of relations with India would be beneficial for the country.”
Sources further pointed out that India’s focus is now in persuading the Myanmar Government to launch offensive against the militants staying in that country following the crackdown launched in Bhutan in 2003 and in Bangladesh in recent times. Though a number of members of the militant groups are still staying in Bangladesh, India is confident that they would not be allowed a free run in that country any more and putting militants under pressure in Myanmar would break the backbones of a number of militant groups.
It may be mentioned here that a number of militant groups of the North East have strong bases in Myanmar, while according to intelligence reports, at least 150 cadres of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) are still staying in the neighbouring country. According to reports, the ULFA has two major camps in Myanmar—the headquarter of the 28 battalion of the outfit and the base of the Aarakan group. A number of militants are also staying in the first battalion headquarter of the NSCN (K) in Myanmar.
A number of hardcore members of the ULFA including central committee member Jiban Moran, Bijoy Chinese, Haren Phukan and Sujit Mohan are believed to be in the camps in Myanmar, sources informed.