ULFA-I and NSCN-K have asked people in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya not to take part in any activities related to Independence Day

Ahead of 75th Independence Day celebrations, two banned rebel groups attacked three Indian Army camps in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland bordering Myanmar on early hour of Tuesday. Paresh Baruah-led United Liberation Front of Assam- Independent (ULFA-I) and Yung Aung led-National Socialist Council of Nagalim- Khaplang (NSCN-K) attacked the Army camps with mortar, rocket launcher, granad and sophisticated arms.

Sources said ULFA-I and NSCN-K militants attacked on a newly built Army camp at Pangsu pass in Arunachal Pradesh near India-Myanmar border. They claimed that the guerrilla team attacked the army camp with mortars and rocket launchers in which a junior commission officer (JCO) of the Army was injured. The second attack took place in Saramati area and third was in Noklak area bordering Myanmar. The joint rebel group attacked on 14th Assam Rifles camp in Noklak area, which was just a firing incident and no casualties were reported. All attacks were carried out by the rebel groups around 3 AM.

In a press release issued by PRO (Defence) Lt Col AS Walia said, “Incident of firing on Assam Rifles troops by militant groups from across the Indo-Myanmar Border took place early morning today in general area of Tirap Changlang. Assam Rifles troop were undertaking enhanced patrolling activities in view of heightened vigil for the forthcoming Independence Day. One JCO sustained minor injury in hand. No injury or any other damage reported. Enhanced surveillance by own troops to continue.”

Confirming the incident, Changlang district Superintendent of Police (SP) Mihin Gambo said firing was reported from the Pangsau Pass area this morning. “It is immediately not known which insurgent groups were involved in the attack,” SP Gambo said.

On August 6, the ULFA-I and Yung Aung faction of the NSCN-K called for a shutdown in five states including Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya on the Independence Day terming it “fake” celebrations. They declared the shutdown from 12 am till 6 pm on August 15.

Security has been beefed up, particularly along India-Myanmar borders in view of the militants’ call for boycott. Last year, the outfit had decided not to call for a boycott of the event—for the first time since 1996. The latest decision could act as a hurdle in efforts to bring ULFA-I to the negotiation table for peace talks.

In the statement issued on Saturday, both ULFA-I and NSCN-K asked people in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya not to take part in any activities related to Independence Day.

The statement mentioned that the shutdown would be from midnight of August 14 and continue till 6 pm the next day. However, “emergency departments, media and religious activities” would be exempted.

Mentioning a decline in standards of living of people and a slowdown of the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic, the outfits said Independence Day should not be celebrated. Last year, for the first time in its 42 years old history, ULFA-I had not boycotted Independence Day celebrations or called for a ‘bandh’ to mark the occasion.

“In view of the COVID-19 situation….and other problems like flood, erosion and unemployment affecting indigenous populations, ULFA-I has refrained itself this time from armed protest of the fake Independence Day of colonial India or called for a ‘bandh’,” the statement, issued by the outfit last year.

Since its inception in 1979 with the aim of an armed struggle to create an independent Assam, ULFA-I has been boycotting Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations and indulged in violent activities on those days.

Since May 2021, when the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government assumed office in Assam for the second time, there has been speculation that ULFA-I could join peace talks with the Centre. Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had indicated on occasions that back channel discussions were underway with regard to the issue.

Meanwhile, security forces have launched a massive operation near Indo-Myanmar border. Pangsu Pass area is one of the remotest area in Arunachal Pradesh and shares boundary with Myanmar. Most of the insurgent groups of northeast have set up their camps in the jungles of Myanmar and very easily they penetrate in Arunachal Pradesh through jungle routes.