The Indian Army has achieved a major breakthrough in military diplomacy in the East after the much praised aerial strikes on the Balakot province of Pakistan. The Burmese Army known as the Tatmakaw struck a huge blow to the bases of the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim in Myanmar’s Sagaing province. It followed up by attacking the basis of the United Liberation Front of Assam and Manipuri rebel groups. The ULFA has admitted to losing a major of its military wing.
Sources of the Indian Army said that there has been a spate of surrender from the ranks of the ULFA and Manipuri rebel group as a result of the Burmese military operation.
In February, Burmese troops stormed the NSCN-K headquarters at Taga. The Rebels did not resist because their leaders appeals to remain within Burmese peace process. The NSCN-K divided after Burmese Naga leaders ousted the chairman and forced him to return to Nagaland in India , is a signatory of the nationwide ceasefire arrangement in Myanmar. Although it reneged on its ceasefire within India in 2015, it maintains the ceasefire it signed with Myanmar in 2012. This is understandable as most of the top leaders of the faction like its founder S.S Khaplang are Burmese Nagas. India has now included the Khango faction in the peace process listing it as a “Naga National Political group” like The other Naga rebel factions, although Delhi has negotiated a final settlement with only the NSCN faction since 1997.
The Indian security forces were hit hard by the K group after they reneged on the ceasefire. In 2015, the Indian Army initiated the first surgical strike against a K group base to avenge the Killing of 18 soldiers of it Dogra Regiment. but the ambushes by the K group continued. With support from the ULFA chief, Paresh Barua, they formed a coalition called the United Nation Liberation Front of Western South East Asia leading to a spurt in insurgent activites in India’s Northeast region. The rise in ULFA’S recruitment in the aftermath of the citizenship bill controversy in Assam added to India’s worries. That is when the Eastern command started extensive parleys with the Tatmadaw. The latter’s February operation has knocked out the last trans-border regrouping zone of the North East Indian rebel groups a blow from which it will not be easy to recover especially since the government in both Bhutan and Bangladesh in no mood to let them return to their old bases in those countries.
The Indian Army reciprocated Myanmar but starting a major counter insurgency operation against the separatist Arakan Army in South Mizoram which has killed a number of Burmese soldiers and policemen in Rakhine in recent months and emerged as the most potent rebel group in the disturbed province. Although there has been peace in Mizoram since the Mizo National Front ended its bloody separatist campaign in 1986, its is remote southern fringes have been used by the Akaran Army as a base area. Denying this base to the Arakan Army is as important for the Tatmadaw as denying the North Eastern insurgents the Taga base area is for the Indian Army. This is the first time the Indian and the Burmese military are working in tandem.
However recently the Arakan army sank a vessel carrying steel girders for the Paletwa bridge and then kidnapped labourers working on the Mizoram-Paletwa highway road which is part of the Kaldan multimodal connectivity project financed by India. Also, no Indian national has been hit, the Arakan Army is perhaps signalling to Delhi to not intervene against its forces because if it want, they can disturb India’s key project in Myanmar.
The Tatmadaw is increasingly turning to India for training and weapons because it suspects all foul play by China in the peace process. Rebel groups like the United Wa State Army, the Kokang Army and Kachin Independence Army enjoy Chinese backing leading the Tatmadaw to believe Beijing is playing a double game. The West is shunning the Tatmadaw after the atrocities on the Rohingya community in Rakhine. India is the only viable alternative source of training, military hardware and counter insurgency cooperation. The reciprocal military operations in Sagaing and south Mizoram are a landmark in Indian military diplomacy in the East.