A Naga rebel stands guard (Photo: Reuters)
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Exclusive: Is China Aiding Insurgents in India’s Northeast?

If tip-offs and Military Intelligence are to be believed then China is instrumental in fuelling the insurgency in India’s Northeast. But, whether or not New Delhi has raised this issue with Beijing, is still a mystery.

Why is China a Cause for Concern

The Indian army suspects that a retired general of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is providing considerable support, by means of manpower and weaponry, to several northeastern insurgent outfits.

The general, whose identity Northeast-based army officers are reluctant to reveal, is said to have unified rebel groups. These include the National Socialist Council of Nagaland — Khaplang [NSCN(K)] (which recently abrogated a 14-year-old ceasefire with the Centre), the remnants of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) under the outfit’s commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, and at least two Manipuri insurgent organisations.

He is also suspected of providing shelter to Baruah, who till recently was reported to be in hiding in Ruili, in China’s Hunan province. Army sources revealed that what is perhaps more pressing than sheltering Baruah, is the fact that the Chinese are probably putting greater stock on the NSCN(K) which has been responsible for some daring strikes against the Indian army, especially units of the Assam Rifles. Last month, a joint team of rebels belonging to the NSCN(K), KYKL, KCP struck Chandel, Manipur, killing 18 soldiers and injuring 11.

In April this year, Baruah reportedly joined hands with SS Khaplang — the NSCN(K) chief — and other northeast militant groups to form the United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW). Army intelligence reports indicate that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could possibly be supplying weapons to the NSCN(K).

Sophisticated weaponry and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)  are now being smuggled in through the India-Myanmar border, straight to the NSCN(K)‘s camps within India and Myanmar.

The 19 Assam Rifles stands guard in Kohima, in the wake of growing threats from the NSCN(K) (Photo: Shaswati Das)
The 19 Assam Rifles stands guard in Kohima, in the wake of growing threats from the NSCN(K) (Photo: Shaswati Das)

Is India Underestimating the Threat to its Northeastern Borders?

Reports of Chinese involvement with the NSCN(K) have been shared with the Ministry of Home Affairs so that an extensive watch could be kept on insurgents who cross the Myanmar-China border for training. The army’s inputs are also likely to be taken up at higher levels of the security establishment, to be conveyed to Beijing.

Over the last few months, the NSCN(K) has stepped up its attacks in the region. These sporadic incidents of violence are all aimed towards the unification of Nagaland with parts of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh as well as some parts of Myanmar — better known as the cause for Nagalim.

With China now covertly assisting Khaplang and Baruah, is India underestimating the security threat to its northeastern borders?

If so, then despite the Indian Army’s aggressive counter-insurgency operations in the region, a much graver threat looms large.