Trans-border strike into Myanmar: A reprisal against June 18 attack on Assam Rifles. Myanmar army has done little to dislodge K group and other rebel groups from their strongholds in Sagaing Division

The Indian para-commando assault in Myanmar on Wednesday seems to be a reprisal against the NSCN (K)–ULFA joint ambush of an Assam Rifles patrol in which three soldiers were killed and as many injured on June 18.

As reported earlier by Northeast Now, ‘at least five’ NSCN (K) rebels were killed when Indian para-commandos on Wednesday attacked a transit camp of the NSCN (K) inside Myanmar. The special forces unit crossed the international border at pillar no 151 in Nagaland’s Mon district around 2 pm and struck the rebel camp around Shwelo inside Myanmar.

But the Indian army is not beating the publicity drum on the issue to avoid adverse reactions from Myanmar.

The last time Indian para-commandos struck rebel bases inside Myanmar and then defence minister Manohar Parikkar bragged loud about the operation, Myanmar protested against the transgressions quite strongly.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign secretary S Jaishanker had to rush to Myanmar for damage control.

Myanmar’s pro-democracy icon and now de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi raised her voice against the Indian commando raids and said violation of Myanmar’s sovereignty was not acceptable.

Since her NLD party assumed the reins of government following a huge victory in Nov 2015 elections, the Myanmar army has assured Indian counterparts that “Myanmar soil will not be allowed for use against India.”

Myanmar’s northwest army commander Maj Gen Phon Myat gave this assurance during a visit to Shillong last year where he was hosted by the Indian army.

But Indian army and para-military forces are not amused by the current spate of rebel attacks along the border with Myanmar. They say the Myanmar army has done little to dislodge the K group and other rebel groups from northeast India from their strongholds in Sagaing Division.

Military intelligence reports indicate that not only are these rebels well entrenched in their bases around Taga but they are also maintaining a string of transit camps on the border.

Burmese forces on the border have done little to hit out even at these border camps which have limited strength and don’t need a huge force to attack.

Indian military intelligence officials say these transit camps are used by rebel units to lay themselves into Indian territory for offensive action.

That explains the reprisal attacks this week. A top military commander in Nagaland told this writer this week that trans-border attacks on rebel bases have always been an option and will be used as and when needed to deter rebels from attacking security forces.

“It is part of a pro active counter-insurgency doctrine,” he said.

Efforts to bring back the NSCN (K) to the table seem to have come a cropper, despite concerted efforts last year.

The K group, now led by China-trained Khonga Konyak who took charge after death of Burmese Naga rebel leader S S Khaplang last year, seems unwilling to return to negotiations with India because it feels Delhi is giving primacy to the Muivah group.

Their position seems to have hardened after reports surfaced in the Indian media that Delhi is close to signing a deal with the Muivah group.