Myanmar Op Part of Sustained Military Campaign Across Arunachal
As the Centre savours the success of the Special Forces’ stealth operation that is said to have neutralised two camps of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) and an allied Manipuri outfit on June 9, a more sustained strike still under way in Myanmar territory across Arunachal Pradesh is being kept a closely guarded secret.
Intelligence sources in Arunachal Pradesh disclosed to The Quint that for the past three days regular army troops have been operating across the international border, in Myanmar territory, opposite Nampong sub-division in Changlang district of the state. The area in Myanmar where the army entered is very close to a region under the control of Burmese Kachin Independence Army. The most likely target is the NSCN(K)’s Taga camp which, among others, is considered to be quite large.
Nampong, on the tri-junction of Arunachal Pradesh, north-eastern Nagaland and Assam, is barely a few kilometres from the border with Myanmar. Close to the Pangsau Pass on the Ledo Road, more famously known as the “Stilwell Road”, Nampong is the last Indian town before the border.
The operation across Nampong, which began on June 8, is part of the sustained retaliatory strikes the army has launched against the NSCN(K) insurgent outfit following the June 4 ambush against troops of the 6th Dogra regiment in Manipur’s Chandel district.
The names of the places which the troops took to cross over is not known with certainty. As and when the matter is declassified, we will let you know.
— Lieutenant Colonel Sunil Newton, Army Spokesperson
Lt Col Newton did not deny that the army went inside Myanmar, though he wouldn’t say what number of troops went across.
But the immediate provocation for the army to cross the border into Myanmar was the NSCN(K)’s daring bid to over-run a 1st Assam Rifles camp at Laju in Tirap district around 2:30 am of June 6. The army has also become highly active in Ukhrul in Manipur where troops continue to undertake offensive patrolling in its attempt to eliminate or push insurgents back into Myanmar.
The sources said that the Myanmar territory across Nampong has a number of camps, including the rebel outfit’s “General Headquarters” and “Command Headquarters”, spread across several sq kms.
“The NSCN(K) enjoys near-total domination over this swathe of territory in Myanmar where the government has done little development work, leaving the rebel group sufficient autonomy, an advantage which it took in the past to build a hospital and a school among other establishments,” Indian intelligence said.
But compared to the NSCN(K) camps in this part of Myanmar which are far more difficult to penetrate or trace, given the difficult terrain and the cover of forests, the targets in the Sagaing Division across Manipur can be approached with helicopters. In the area across Nampong the troops were able to push back some of the insurgents and were able to recover some photographs and documents, sources said. There is, however, no report to suggest that the army operation was able to smash NSCN(K) camps or eliminate some of the rebels.
The army brass in the north-east calculated that sending out troops on foot was a better option than employing helicopters across Arunachal Pradesh. In the ongoing operation, a much wider area, compared to the one in Thantapin and Ongia, where the army claimed to have killed 15-20 insurgents, is being covered.
Police sources The Quint contacted in Arunachal Pradesh revealed that since June 4, when the Chandel ambush took place, there has been a “lot of movement” of the army, Assam Rifles and CRPF units inside Indian territory. “The NSCN(K) operatives usually move in groups of 20-30. They mostly use porter tracks to sneak into India,” a state police officer said.