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Myanmar Operations: A Hard-hitting Lesson to Terrorists; By Jai Kumar Verma

C3S Paper No. 0137/ 2015

Courtesy: Bureaucracy Today

Two major militant camps of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) and the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) were devastated in the Indian surgical operations in Myanmar on June 9. It was the result of a combined effort of the Army, the Air Force, the Research and Analysis Wing, the Intelligence Bureau and the Ministry of External Affairs. But the top of it was the political will and the support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which made the mission possible.

The June 9 operations were a positive shift from the previous regime’s approach of rapprochement only. Approximately 100 terrorists were killed while several others were injured in the strike. The terrorist camps which were five miles inside Myanmar were completely destroyed and no Indian soldier was martyred. It was a great morale booster to the Indian security forces, especially the armed forces as NSCN(K) terrorists killed 18 soldiers of 6 Dogra Regiment in Manipur on June 4. The security forces had a feeling that the Government was not much bothered when Indian personnel were killed. The June 9 surgical operations were a rendition of honour. According to intelligence reports, the insurgents who got emboldened by the success of the June 4 assault were planning another attack on Indian security forces. Hence the June 9 strike was pre-emptive and stopped further violence by insurgent groups.

There is a 1990 treaty between India and Myanmar which mentions that the forces of both countries can enter the areas abutting their borders while chasing terrorists. Not only this civilians can also enter up to 15 km inside another country. Nevertheless, the Ministry of External Affairs did a wonderful job by keeping the Myanmar Government fully informed about the surgical operations.

The Myanmar Government was helpful to India in the past also. But after India awarded a medal to Suu Kyi and supported her, Myanmar withdrew assistance. However, after India supplied arms and ammunition and made bilateral relations more cordial, Myanmar allowed hot pursuit. The terrorist outfits were not only using Myanmar as a safe sanctuary but also procuring sophisticated arms and ammunition through their contacts. Myanmar was not supporting terrorist outfits but was unable to destroy their camps, partially because of Chinese pressure and also because the Myanmar Army was busy in controlling rebellion in its own territory.

The Myanmar operations have given a stern message to terrorists as well as countries like China and Pakistan, which are said to be supporting terrorism in India, that now the reaction of the Indian Government in tackling terrorism will be bold and aggressive.

An Open Secret

It is an open secret that China is helping and abetting various terrorist outfits in North-East India. Paresh Baruah, the Commander-in-Chief of the banned United Liberation Front of Assam, is hiding in China. Pakistan’s nefarious Inter Services Intelligence is running several camps where terrorists are trained and then sent to India for carrying out terrorist activity. However it is difficult to attack these terrorist camps as it may flare up a full-scale war. Some analysts say that since Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is an integral part of India the Indian forces do not need any permission to enter in the PoK and destroy the terrorist camps there. The Indian Army is capable of performing this task. However, it needs support from political masters.

Observers say the surgical strike in Myanmar was a daring initiative. However, it cannot be replicated in Pakistan and China. Hence diplomacy is the best option to sort out various problems, including terrorism, with India’s neighbours. Nonetheless India has given a message that it can also strike. India will not resort only to defensive techniques like the fencing of borders and the enhancement of paramilitary forces and can be aggressive too.

(The writer retired as a Director of the Cabinet Secretariat. He is now a Delhi-based strategic analyst and is a member of the panel of various training institutes of Intelligence and paramilitary organisations.)

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