India tightens vigil along Myanmar border after coordinated operations against insurgent groups


NEW DELHI: While India placed its armed forces on high alert along the border with Pakistan in light of military tensions, it also kept vigil along the Myanmar border by deploying additional army troops to reinforce the Assam Rifles companies there.

The fresh deployment along the entire 1,643 km long border between India and Myanmar, especially on the Mizoram side, comes amid a recently concluded coordinated operation between the Indian Army and Myanmar Army. The operation from February 17 to March 2 was against the Myanmar insurgent group, Arakan Army, and the NSCN (K), a North-East insurgent group notorious for attacks against the Indian Army and having hideouts in Myanmar.

A reason why the operation was necessitated was because the Arakan Army had setup several camps comprising of about 1,000 cadres in areas across Mizoram’s Lawngtala district. These areas cut across the Kaladan Project and the insurgents posed a threat to it. The $484 million project, which will link Myanmar’s Sitwe to Mizoram and then the rest of the North East, is aimed at improving trade with not just Myanmar but other South Asian countries as well.

In the last few months, close to 3000 Arakan Army cadres have been trained by another Myanmar insurgent group, the Kachin Independence Army, in Myanmar’s Kachin area which borders China’s Yunan province. Both the groups are part of a coalition of insurgent groups called the Northern Alliance, which are believed to be supported by China. An important training for the Arakan Army was setting up Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

From 2017, the Arakan Army increased its movement towards south Myanmar, despite having their bases mostly towards the north of the country. By last year, they had setup 10 camps across the International Border with India in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The location of the camps coupled with their armed training posed a direct threat to the Kaladan project. Intelligence inputs also pointed out that the Arakan Army were planning to infiltrate into India.

These issues became a cause of concern for India and Myanmar. Several meetings were held between the two for launching a coordinated operation. Sources said there was heavy mobilisation from the Indian Army along the border with Myanmar. “Additional Indian Army troops were deployed for strengthening the border posture. While this was to ensure insurgents don’t sneak into India, no Indian troops went across,” said an official.

In the meantime, the operation happened in two phases- against the Arakan Army in south Myanmar, bordering Mizoram, and the NSCN (K) in north Myanmar, bordering Arunachal. The Indian Army had provided intelligence to their counterpart. The Myanmar Army had taken control of the NSCN (K) headquarters and destroyed their hideouts in Taga. It also destroyed about 10 Arakan Army camps.


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