On the fifth day after the ambush on an army unit in Manipur’s Chandel district, on 09 June, India’s surprising and swift response on ground proved to be unprecedented. Briefing the media, Major General Ranbir Singh, Additional Director General, Military Operations (A), Indian Army said “In the course of the last few days, credible and specific intelligence was received about further attacks that were being planned within our territory. These attacks were to be carried out by some of the groups involved in earlier attacks on our security personnel and their allies….An immediate response was necessary to counter the assault being planned by groups involved in earlier attacks….Based on intelligence, we conducted operations to counter these planned assaults. Early morning on 09 June, Indian Army engaged two separate groups of insurgents along the Indo- Myanmar border at two locations, along the Nagaland and Manipur borders. Significant casualties have been inflicted on them. As a consequence, threats to our civilian population and security forces were averted.”
For the first time ever, effective use was made of Special Forces troops who were moved Mi-17 helicopters to launch surgical strikes with telling effect and were extricated safely and without any casualties.
On 17 June, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar had a meeting with Myanmar’s President U Thein Sein, Commander-in-Chief (C-in- C)and Foreign Minister, in which the discussions included “continued security cooperation and coordination along the India-Myanmar border and on other bilateral issues”. Based on India’s May 2014 agreement on border cooperation with Myanmar, Doval was closely involved in planning the 09 June Army operation along the India- Myanmar border. The agreement provides for a framework for security cooperation including exchange of information between security agencies of the two countries and coordinated patrolling on respective sides of the international border and the maritime boundary by the Armed Forces of the two countries. It is only after the ambush in Chandel that the provisions of this agreement were invoked for launching the retaliatory strike by Indian Army’s special forces.
While some more militants involved in the 04 June attack of the same groups were reported to have been killed by security forces in Maipur, National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) (NSCN (K)) has used social media to convey a threat to the Army of placing a price of reportedly Rs. 2,00,000/- on every army soldier captured alive. While the Army has its share of troops hailing from the North Eastern states, majority of Assam Rifles (under Home Ministry but under operational command of the Army) personnel are from there. As such, all soldiers proceeding on leave or returning from it and all those spending their leave in their homes in NE, would be vulnerable.
A recent news report from Guwahati stated the strong possibility of the 75 year old S.S. Khaplang, being treated in a hospital at Yuili, a border town in China’s Yunnan province. While Myanmar government reportedly stated that Khaplang is being treated in Yangon, given the background of the Chinese connection of NSCN-K and its close supporter Paresh Barua’s non talks faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Khaplang could well be in China. Either way, reports in North East regional media suggest that he is still in overall command of his extended outfit, United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia’, or ULFWSEA, which ambushed the army unit in Manipur’s Chandel district on June 4, 2015. Whether Khaplang is being treated in China or not, the Chinese connection with almost all Indian insurgent/terrorist groups of the North-East through Chinese intelligence and “NGOs” is not only well established but also well developed enough to “arrange” providing arms, ammunition etc to the Naxal-Maoists also.
With Myanmar’s C-in-C due to visit India shortly, in the interest of both counties it must be ensured that operations against all Indian militant groups taking shelter there continue till they are effectively neutralized.