NSCN (Khaplang) cadres at Khehoi camp in Dimapur. File picture
New Delhi, Jan. 1: Myanmar has sought India’s help in untangling an insurgency knot involving the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the NSCN (Khaplang).
The KIA, the armed wing of Kachin Independence Organisation, rules the roost in Kachin state, which also has the presence of NSCN (K), a rebel group led by S.S. Khaplang, a Myanmar-origin Naga.
Myanmar’s request has to do with the involvement of KIA in the process of its negotiation with the NSCN (K).
A source said after the Myanmar government signed a “state-level” ceasefire with the Naga rebel group in April this year, “the KIA has apparently told the NSCN to take its concurrence before going ahead with the negotiations or signing any further pacts with the Myanmar government.”
The Myanmar government is hoping that the Indian security forces, who are believed to have “friends” in the Kachin state, may be able to resolve the situation.
The request was made last week by Brig. Gen. Kyaw Zan Myint, deputy minister of home affairs in Myanmar, who led a 12-member delegation to the 18th Myanmar-India national-level meeting, where they discussed various issues with India’s border management team from the ministry of home affairs.
The KIA and Myanmar army are currently fighting pitched battles and relations between Yangon and Laiza are said to be at an all-time low. Myanmar has ceasefire agreements with 10 major insurgent groups but not with the KIA with which a 16-year truce has ended. Informal talks were held with the group in October last year, but it didn’t help.
Meanwhile, the Naga rebels, who are yet to reach a final stage of negotiations, are in a dilemma.
Myint is said to have told A.K. Mangotra, secretary (border management) in the home ministry, that help from India could be crucial in maintaining peace in Kachin state and thereby in Sagaing where the Naga rebels are most active.
Since the NSCN (K) has also sheltered outfits from Manipur and Assam, prominently leaders like I.K. Songbijit of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and Paresh Barua of Ulfa, the situation poses a challenge for India.
Indian officials said there is a marked difference in the way Myanmar has begun to look at the problem of insurgency. “There is no denial anymore about the presence of Indian insurgents in Myanmar,” a home ministry source said.
With the set of reforms carried out by President Thein Sein and re-emergence of Aung San Suu Kyi, India has embarked on a renewed engagement with Myanmar.
The delegates also discussed arms smuggling, border management, narcotics, Indian prisoners in Myanmar and Myanmarese prisoners in India last week.
Drug smuggling and gun-running from Myanmar is a major problem for India. Myanmar’s deputy director of the control committee for drug abuse, Zaw Lin Tun, conceded to officials that there were poppy fields in Myanmar, of which some are owned and run by Indian insurgents.