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SUBIR BHAUMIK |
Indian para–commandos have attacked a transit camp of the NSCN–K inside Myanmar, top military officials told LOOKEAST.
The Special Forces unit crossed the international border at pillar no 151 in Nagaland’s Mon district around 2pm on Wednesday and struck the rebel camp around Shwelo inside Myanmar.
The officials said that the rebels were caught by surprise as the soldiers blasted the camp with rockets from shoulder fired launchers, grenades and automatic weapons.
“The assault lasted for more than 40 minutes after which the soldiers withdrew to the Indian side of the border, without suffering any casualty” one official said on condition of anonymity.
They place the rebel casualties at “at least five”. NSCN–K is yet to respond though independent sources in Mon confirm the attack took place.
This assault seems to be a reprisal to the NSCN–K/ULFA joint ambush of an Assam Rifles patrol in which three soldiers were killed and as many injured.
But the Indian army is not beating the publicity drum on the issue to avoid adverse reactions from Myanmar.
The last time Indian para–commandos struck rebel bases inside Myanmar and then defence minister Manohar Parikkar owned up the operation, Myanmar protested against the transgressions quite strongly .
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign secretary S Jaishanker had to rush to Myanmar for damage control.
Myanmar’s pro–democracy icon and now de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi raised her voice against the Indian commando raids and said violation of Myanmar’s sovereignity was not acceptable.
Assault lasted for more than 40 minutes after which the soldiers withdrew to the Indian side of the border, without suffering any casualty” one official said on condition of anonymity. They place the rebel casualties at “at least five”. NSCN–K is yet to respond though independent sources in Mon confirm the attack
Since her NLD party assumed the reins of government following a huge victory in Nov 2015 elections, the Myanmar army has assured Indian counterparts that “Myanmar soil will not be allowed for use against India”.
Myanmar’s northwest army commander Maj Gen Phon Myat gave this assurance during a visit to Shillong last year where he was hosted by the Indian army.
But Indian army and para–military forces are not amused by the current spate of rebel attacks along the border with Myanmar. They say the Myanmar army has done little to dislodge the ‘K’ group and other rebels from northeast India from their strongholds in Sagaing Division.
That explains the reprisal attacks this week.
Efforts to bring back the NSCN–K to the table seems to have come a cropper, despite concerted efforts last year.
The ‘K’ group, now led by China–trained Khonga Konyak who took charge after death of Burmese Naga rebel leader SS Khaplang last year, seems unwilling to return to negotiations with India because it feels Delhi is giving primacy to the Muivah group.
Their position seems to have hardened after reports surfaced in the Indian media that Delhi is close to signing a deal with the Muivah group. ■
Subir Bhaumik is Editorial Director of LOOKEAST.