Just weeks after India carried out a ‘non-military pre-emptive’ strikes deep inside Pakistan to secure itself from another Islamic terror attack, the Indian security establishment has conducted a similar pre-emptive co-ordinated operation along its Eastern borders to secure the country’s vital interests, according to reports. A joint operation by Indian security forces and Myanmar security forces has successfully destroyed camps of terrorist groups present across the Indo-Myanmar border.
The Indian security establishment sensing a security threat launched a coordinated operation along with Myanmar Army to avert a major security threat by preventing members of a terrorist group of Myanmar from sneaking into India, reported The Assam Tribune. These insurgent groups, often aided and abetted by inimical forces operating from sanctuaries in India’s neighborhood, especially China, are considered to be a threat to strategic Kaladan Multimodal Transit project, a US$484 million mega-project connecting India’s land-locked North-eastern region to the sea.
The Arakan Army, a Myanmar based terrorist outfit, part of the Northern Alliance in Myanmar, which is a conglomerate of four insurgent organizations, are trained along with the Kachin Independent Army in Kachin, Northern Myanmar area bordering Yunan province of China. Reportedly, these groups had moved from Northern bases to Southern Rakhine province to southern areas, which had brought a bit of worry to India’s security establishment. Reportedly, the movement of the Arakan Army towards the south of the country increased in 2017 and it was estimated that they were able to set up at least 10 terror camps across the international border in the Rakhine state of Myanmar in 2018.
These terrorist groups have travelled nearly 1000 km from areas adjoining the Arunachal Pradesh to Mizoram border to set up camps across the International Border. Most of the camps were located across Border Pillars 1 to 9 along the Mizoram-Myanmar border. Intelligence inputs had indicated that some members of the Arakan Army were also planning to sneak into India. The setting up of camps of the insurgents caused serious concern for both Myanmar and India, which led to the security forces of both the countries to chalk out a plan for launching a coordinated operation against these groups.
It is reported that in an operation that began on February 17 and ended on March 2, after days of coordination and preparation, all the camps of the terrorist groups have been destroyed. Even makeshift camps made by the Arakan Army were burnt down.
Assam Rifles, which secures the India-Myanmar border, along with Special Forces of the Indian Army is said to have closely co-operated with the Myanmar Army. Reportedly, the Indian Army personnel did not cross the international border but properly secured it to ensure that the insurgents do not cross over to India when the offensive was launched by the Myanmar Army personnel. Indian forces had coordinated with their Myanmar counterparts in intelligence sharing and planning, reports say.
The movement of the Arakan Army towards the south had raised suspicion regarding their motives as there were no reports of these terrorist groups attacking the Rohingyas present in the Rakhine state. However, the Arakan Army, alleged to be backed by China, may have been working to sabotage Kaladan Multimodal project, by setting up camps across the region. The Indian construction workers engaged in the implementation of the Kaladan project were feeling threatened because of the activities of the Arakan Army insurgents and there was every possibility of the insurgents posing a serious threat to the project.
The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project is a project connecting the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Rakhine State, Myanmar by sea. In Myanmar, it will then link Sittwe seaport to Paletwa in Chin State via the Kaladan river route, and then from Paletwa by road to Mizoram state in Northeast India. Once completed, the KMMT would allow goods from eastern Indian ports such as Kolkata to reach India’s north-eastern states more cheaply.
The project would also enhance economic ties between coastal Indian urban hubs and the Myanmar economy, an attractive prospect for India as Myanmar’s 60 million people begin to consume more foreign goods. It will also serve as a cornerstone to India’s “Act East Policy” aiming to expand India’s economic and political influence in Southeast Asia.
Sandwiched between Bangladesh to the west, Myanmar to the east and Bhutan and China to the north, the northeastern states of India remain geographically isolated from the rest of the country. Although the states of Northeast India is politically, economically and culturally vital to the country, its geo-strategic influence is the most crucial aspect of all the above.
Northeast India has an extraordinarily important international strategic dimension and is a vital part of the nation’s defence architecture. It is not only India’s land bridge to South-East Asia but also a gateway to regions beyond. However, North Eastern India has been facing problems of insurgency for near five decades. Political instability in the northeast was very much exploited by India’s neighbours particularly China for its geopolitical reasons, as well to add disruption to India’s most geographically sensitive point.
However, things are now settling down and peace started to prevail thanks to the socio-economic development of the region along with a sense of political autonomy these states enjoy. Since 2014, a lot has changed in the region, especially on the socio-economic front, which has prevented these insurgent groups capitalising on the vulnerabilities of the people of these regions. The present government has given a huge impetus to the infrastructure development in the region by building railways networks, bridges, which has brought a massive change in lives of the people, making it is easier to the people of the region to connect with the mainland.