May 24: Indian intelligence agencies and the army have begun exchanging information with their Myanmar counterparts in preparation for a full-fledged offensive against Northeast militants operating from that country.
A senior official of the army’s 4 Corps, headquartered in the central Assam town of Tezpur, said information had been received about the number of militant camps in Myanmar, their locations and logistical details.
“We have pinpointed the locations of the camps of Northeast militants in that country with their help. They have given us a list of camps that the Chin National Army and the Kachin Independence Army have supposedly set up in the jungles of Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh,” he said.
The official said the junta had already conducted several “low-intensity” operations against militant groups holed up in its territory. “Based on inputs from Indian intelligence agencies, the Myanmarese junta recently busted a cluster of camps of the United National Liberation Front in the Chin Hills.”
He said Bhutan’s successful offensive against the Ulfa and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) prompted both groups to shift some of their bases in Myanmar and the dense jungles of Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Militants consider Myanmar a strategic location because it has porous boundaries with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.
The absence of an administration in vast stretches of Sagaing division and the Kachin Hills is another advantage for them.
Sources said the exchange of information between Indian and Myanmarese forces was the outcome of several rounds of meetings between top officials over the past few months.
Like Bhutan, Myanmar veered round to the Indian point of view after a diplomatic initiative. Vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who visited Myanmar late last year, spoke to the junta about the need to evict the militants and reportedly offered a slew of sops if it reciprocated.
Immediately after Shekhawat’s visit, a Myanmarese army offensive was reported on some NSCN (Khaplang) camps, though not on a scale as big as the operation in Bhutan.
The last major offensive by the junta against militant groups of the Northeast was in 2001. Several militant camps, including the NSCN (K) council headquarters, were destroyed in that operation.