Myanmar Army’s Commanderin- Chief Vice Senior General Soe Win, accompanied by his wife and six staff officers came on a sixday visit to India in the second week of December 2013. Arriving at Kolkata, he met Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Dalbir Singh. Gen Win met officers of the Eastern
Command and discussed issues concerning security and enhancement of military ties between the armies and other issues of mutual interest between the two countries. While the delegation also visited 3 Corps HQ, Rangapahar, Dimapur and Manipur, defence sources reportedly declined to comment on whether border fencing issues in Manipur were also raised during the meet.
Received in New Delhi by Army Chief General Bikram Singh, the delegation called on President Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister AK Antony. “Bilateral relations between India and Myanmar have seen accelerated growth and expansion over the past two years and India stands ready to build on this”, Mr. Mukherjee said. India has in the last two years sought to extend and broaden defence cooperation with Myanmar, and is willing to expand the scope of bilateral ties particularly at a time when Myanmar is engaged in far-reaching political and economic reforms and expressed confidence that the Vice Senior General’s visit would further strengthen the relations between the two countries. Responding to the President, the Vice Senior General said that Myanmar Government was aware of the importance of peace and cooperation on the border and it stands ready to increase its cooperation with India. He reiterated the assurance made jointly by the Prime Minister and Myanmar President in May 2012 that territories of either country would not be allowed to be used for activities inimical to the other, including for training, sanctuary and other operations by terrorist and insurgent organisations and their operatives.
While this visit coming after Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh’s five-day visit to Myanmar in October, assumes special significance in the light of enhanced defence cooperation between the two countries and the growing relationship, the fact remains that many past promises by Myanmar of not allowing Indian insurgent groups (IIGs) sanctuary in Myanmar, were never actually fulfilled on the ground.
Mullappally Ramachandran, Minister of State of Home Affairs, in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Aug 28, had reportedly stated: “There are reports that IIGs have been using Myanmar territory for safe sanctuary… Manipur based Meiti insurgent groups like People’s Liberation Army (PLA), United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK); Naga insurgent group like National Socialist Council of Nagaland/ Khaplang (NSCN/K) and United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Anti-talk faction and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) have their camps / hideouts in Myanmar Naga Hills (MNH)… Myanmar has always been assuring India that they will not allow their soil to be used by IIGs to carry out activities inimical to India. IIGs continue to use Myanmar territory notwithstanding Myanmar’s repeated assurances not to allow its territory for activities inimical to India.”
The minister said the presence of IIGs in Myanmar has been the single most important security issue for India at every bilateral negotiations, i.e. National Level Meeting (NLM) at Home Secretary Level and Sectoral Level Meeting (SLM) at Joint Secretary Level held every year in pursuance of 1994 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Myanmar.
In the NLM between India and Myanmar at Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar) held in January and SLM held at Kolkata in June, the issue of continued presence of IIG groups in Myanmar was raised again and Myanmar had assured to cooperate closely to address the Indian concerns.
“As a result of regular National Level and Sectoral Level Meetings and followup of deliberations of NLM and SLM, Myanmar authorities have shown willingness to act against these militant groups and have started some operations against IIGs in Myanmar in recent times,” the minister had said.