Arunachal rebel camp raided

The army today said it had launched strikes on National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) insurgents along the India-Myanmar border in Arunachal Pradesh and killed a militant before destroying one of their camps.

By Our Bureau
  • Published 5.09.17
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New Delhi, Sept. 4: The army today said it had launched strikes on National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) insurgents along the India-Myanmar border in Arunachal Pradesh and killed a militant before destroying one of their camps.

The strike came a day before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Myanmar for his first bilateral meeting. Sources in the army headquarters today said it was not a cross-border strike like the one in June 2015.

In that incident, the army had conducted surgical strikes against militants inside Myanmar in retaliation to the rebels crossing over from Myanmar into Manipur and ambushed and killed 18 Indian soldiers.

The 21 Special Forces battalion today launched the operation at 7.30am following specific inputs about the presence of NSCN (K) militants along the border near Longding district of Arunachal Pradesh.

Troops of 21 Para SF and 16 Assam Rifles killed an NSCN (K) cadre and injured another near Votnu village under Wakka circle in the district. The encounter site is around 15km from the Indo-Myanmar border.

A 21 Para SF personnel was also injured in the operation, army sources told The Telegraph.

An Assam Rifles press release said security forces also destroyed a temporary shelter and recovered an AK-47 riffle with ammunition.

"Several other militants managed to escape into the nearby dense forest because of dense fog in the area. The special forces recovered an AK-56, a radio set and a hand grenade, along with live bullets. During a combing operation, the forces located a camp of the rebels and destroyed it," said an official in the army headquarters.

Army chief Bipin Rawat, who met Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju at his North Block office later in the day, told reporters that the latest operation by security forces against NSCN (K) along the India-Myanmar border was "normal operations".

"These are normal and routine operations. Such operations happen everyday," he said.

In June 2015 India had claimed Myanmar sanctioned the cross-border strikes on the understanding that its role would be kept a secret but later faced with chest-thumping by Indian ministers, Myanmar officially denied the raid.

"The operation is still under way to locate some of the militants who managed to flee. There were no casualties among our own forces," the army official added.

"Militaries of both countries have a history of close co-operation. India wants to ensure peace and tranquillity along the border and in the border states and any threat to our security, safety and national integrity will meet a firm response," he said.

The caution deployed by the Centre today, both in the description of the operation and the avoidance of chest-thumping, marked a contrast from the Modi administration's response to the counter-terrorism raid on June 2015.

The careful response was a direct consequence of both the operation's timing - a day before Modi flies into Myanmar - and India's growing worries that the Aung San Suu Kyi-led government in Nay Pyi Taw is tilting towards China.

Suu Kyi had made clear soon after her party came to power last year that she would seek more clarity on the June 2015 cross-border raid.

When she visited India in October 2016, Suu Kyi also sought and received public acknowledgement from India that both countries would respect each other's sovereignty.