India’s NE Rebels’ collusion with Burma Army

N.B Chyoi / June 07, 2021

Naga rebel

The rebel groups from Northeast India bordering Burma have sanctuaries since decades in the border areas of Rakhine State, Chin State and Sagaing Region. In 1996, there was a flush out operation “Golden Bird” conducted by Indian security forces to nab the combined groups of 200 insurgents from United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) carrying a arms consignment from Cox Bazar in Bangladesh to Manipur.

Although they were intercepted along the Mizoram India-Burma border yet large number of cadres this group managed to sneak into Chin State and got a safe passage by managing things across the border. Burma Army had always maintained silence over their presence due to obvious reasons.

Recently, Burma Army collusion with NE rebels’ especially Kathe groups (Manipuris) like PLA, United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), and Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) has been exposed completely. Pressure exerted by the Civil Disobedient Movement (CDM) protesters in Tamu area in Burma forced the local Army Commanders to seek their assistance in containing civilian protests. Army and Police uniforms, boarding & lodging were ensured in Army barracks around Kabaw Valley.

The local residents of Tamu were shocked to see the Meitei (Kathe) attacking them, looting or setting their houses on fire. It was regretful moment as Tamu residents had facilitated their stay in the past as friendly gesture but now they regret helping the undeserving and unfaithful class of people.

Kathe (Manipuri) insurgent groups have close nexus with politicians in Manipur (India) and also facilitate their business, even narcotics smuggling. There are pockets in Mandalay, Kalay, Monywa and Tamu, where these insurgents have their set-ups or hideouts. These set ups in the civilian areas extend logistics to cadres based in camps in Hesin, Aungziyar, Homalin.

Medical aid to sick members is a major task. Serious patients are brought to Mandalay for treatment in City Hospital and Nyang Hospital. Top Manipuri leaders are having hideouts in Mandalay. Manipuri girls have been sponsored for cultural courses like dancing, singing etc to Manipur by these insurgent outfits and later some of them got married to the cadres. This has helped them to legitimize their stay. The Burmese origin Manipuri ladies has a role to play in. As Kathe, Burma Army nexus is exposed now.

The Kukis, who are mostly Christian, have formed generation “Z” to counter the joint attacks of Manipuris and Army in Sagaing. The Kukis have joined National Unity Govt. too and part of Peoples Defence Army. This can lead to another communal issue which can change the dynamics of Tamu-Moreh border trade and ultimately affecting the Burmese trading community.

Similarly, the Chairman of NSCN- K, Thoiba, also known as Yung Aung, had issued instructions to the Nagas of Leyshi, Lahe and Nanyun not to extend support the CDM in Naga Self Administrative Zone. It is basically a shameful moment for every Naga as founding Chairman late S.S Khaplang had always stood for sovereignty of Nagas and he never compromised with anyone till his last breath in June 2017. But the present Chairman is dancing to the tune of Burma Army. Nagas needs to introspect whether Young Aung can restore the lost glory of Nagas or he would put sovereignty of Nagas at stake for his personal gains. Burma Nagas have already disintegrated since the demise of Khaplang.

Kachin has been the gateway to China and had been a safest route for arms transshipment for Indian rebels. KIA too has to introspect whether any collusion with NE Rebels is in their favour or it can be counter productive as scenario has changed. If they still believe they can back upon China for long, it seems to be a miscalculated move. KIA is well trained and well equipped, they can do better job by training Peoples Defence Army (PDA) rather. One must commend KIA’s courage of going offensive against Burma Army despite China’s warning as it a survival battle for KIA.

N.B Chyoi is a Kachin lawyer and geopolitical analyst focusing especially on Burma, India and China.

The opinion expressed here is the author’s own, and does not represent the editorial policy of The Kachin Post.