INSURGENCY IN NORTH-EAST AND THE ‘LOCAL’ ELEMENT

They tried to do it again. And they tried to do it in Tirap again.

A group of some 40 terrorists, suspected to be from NSCN(K), attacked the camp of Assam Rifles in Tirap district in Andhra Pradesh.

Since there was prior intelligence this time, terrorists fire saw retaliatory attack by the personnel of the paramilitary force mandated to guard the India-Myanmar border.

No casualty was reported in exchange of fire that lasted for 10 minutes.

In an earlier incident in the district on April 2, NSCN(K) had ambushed an Army convoy (4 Rajput Regiment) killing 3 soldiers. It was around 6 AM.

Alertness and prior intelligence is natural in these tense circumstances. Just three days ago, in the deadliest attack on the Indian Army in the Northeast India, terrorists killed 18 soldiers of the 6 Dogra Regiment. NSCN(K), ULFA (I) and KYKL among others are being said to be behind this cowardly attack on the road-opening patrol that was not fully prepared to take on militants.

But that is a mistake or laxity or ‘intelligence failure’ that the Indian security establishment cannot afford in crisis-hit regions like J&K or in different states of the North-East.

The incident happened even if the Indian security establishment knew that the Khaplang faction of NSCN would try to hit targets in quick succession to prove its relevance after it broke the ceasefire in March 2015.

The intelligence establishment, with its multiple agencies, including the Indian Army and local police, expected attacks to happen, yet they could not see what was coming on June 4 in the Chandel district.

Like today’s incident in the Tirap district, involving a large group of terrorists (as is being reported), Chandel attack, too, involved a large group. Like Chandel, Tirap, too, is a district bordering Myanmar. In Chandel, it was around 6 AM, according to NSCN(K), the outfit which took responsibility of the attack. In Tirap, it was at 2:30 AM.

So, the terrorists want to attack those units of Indian security establishment, including its Army and paramilitary forces, which they find not equipped enough to retaliate – like it was a road-opening-patrol in Chandel – like it was at 2:30 AM at Assam Rifles camp in a remote area of Tirap.

If this sort of ‘hit and run’ is going to be the strategy of many groups of the North-East, including NSCN(K), intelligence agencies are going to face an even more difficult job at hand to thwart such attacks.

Going by the developments, it is quite sure that the intelligence agencies are not getting local support or are not able to exploit the means at this end.

India-Myanmar border is 15 Kms from the place where Chandel attack took place. Even if it was very near to the Myanmar border, crossing the border undetected after perpetrating such a deadly attack would be impossible for such a large group without local support. It holds true even in case the group members scattered here and there and crossed the border in small units or individually or even if they stayed back in the Indian territory, mixed among the villagers.

And today’s attack in Tirap holds same ‘intelligence’ logic. Assam Rifles guard the India-Myanmar border but they could not gauge from where the terrorists came and to where they fled away after opening fire. At least, that information is not in the public domain so far. Though Assam Rifles had intelligence about an upcoming attack, they could not trace out such a large group. But if they could escape as it was dark, it was not possible without the local support – the rapid movement of such a large group after a retaliatory attack.

And such ‘intelligence failures’ owing to the ‘non-cooperation of the local people’ in many North-East states give rise to various debates including Delhi’s negligence of the entire territory, shabby state of development and poor infrastructure and the imposition of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

When I wrote in an article on June 4 attack that we needed to see ‘it is to be seen how the government of India moves next morning’, it was basically about addressing this ‘local’ element – to come to the board and to chalk a roadmap for a permanent solution.

A thorough preparedness, being alert round the clock, and a more intense intelligence gathering mechanism can thwart the possibility of damage in such attacks. Yes, but it cannot thwart the possibility of such attacks.

That needs comprehensive sanitization of the affected areas by the Indian security establishment. But that cannot happen without local support.

And we cannot trust on the government in Myanmar. Terrorist groups active in the North-East operate from Myanmar. The government there has not enough means, political and military, to take on these outfits and the government was forced to sign an agreement with S. S. Khaplang.

Such groups also get vital Chinese support which has interests in the promoting insurgency in the North-East with its claim on Arunachal Pradesh.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHAT HAPPENED IN CHANDEL WAS WAITING TO HAPPEN..

It can be said there were enough indications that Northeast India was going to see a big terror strike soon. And it happened today.

In an ambush, 18 Indian soldiers were killed and 11 were injured in Manipur in Chandel district that shares border with Myanmar. First, a powerful blast hit the 6 Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army. Then came the barrage of grenades and bullets. It is impossible to look at the charred bodies and the overall gory scene at the ambush spot.

Spike in terror related incidents was expected after NSCN(K) broke the ceasefire agreement, that was in place for last so many years years, in March 2015. S. S. Khaplang, its chairman, who hails from Myanmar, played key role in organizing terror outfits of the reason. A meeting was held in Myanmar this April and nine terror groups united under the umbrella of ‘United National Liberation Front of West South East Asia’. Many terror groups of Northeast India call the region ‘West South East Asia’ and claim to fight the Indian government to liberate it.

Ever since NSCK(K) broke the ceasefire agreement, it has kept fuelling the anti-India stand with its terror acts. Since then, it is actively involved in ambushing and killing the Indian security forces personnel.

The terror outfit killed three and injured three others on April 2. It was in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap district.

Eight personnel of Assam Rifles were killed and six others were injured on May 3. It was in Nagaland’s Mon district.

18 personnel of the Indian Army were killed and 11 others were injured on June 4. The incident took place in Manipur’s Chandel district.

The imprints are clear – Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur.

Next could be Tripura which recently removed Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state after being in force for 18 years.

According to the information available from SATP, 23 security personnel were killed in the entire northeast region in 2014. This year, including today’s incident, the figure has already reached to an alarming 41 security personnel killed in terror strikes. The figure is highest since 2008 and seven months are still to go.

India is the world’s fastest growing economy now. It is among the largest economies of the world. Narendra Modi’s foreign policy has gained a positive imagery for India across the world. It is being recognized, not only for its economic advantages, but also for its strategic strengths.

But it cannot be recognized a true military power in league with the strong nations until it handles the insurgency on its own. It has strong defence capabilities. Its Army, Air Force and Navy – all are known for their respective might. Its paramilitary are considered efficient and work in some of the most hostile parts of the world.

But the country’s might cannot and should not be recognized globally until such incidents keep on happening in any part of India including its northeast states and Jammu and Kashmir.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow and thereafter in the wake on this and other similar incidents. India needs to go beyond issuing routine statements on such incidents. Tough decisions are overdue. Yes, there will be collateral damage that should strive to minimize.

We know Myanmar has training camps of many terrorist groups of the region. Its Sagaing division, where the April meeting was held, serves as their hideout and headquarter. Indian intelligence agencies routinely pass such information to the concerned establishment in India. They continuously warn of Chinese efforts to prop up terrorist outfits of the northeast region. Instability in the region is good for China and its Arunachal Pradesh claims.

We cannot be seen as a strong nation until we pressure Myanmar to remove terror groups operating in Indian territory from Myanmarese soil.

The Indian Army is engaged in combing operation of the area to flush out terrorists. The Myanmar border has been sealed.

Next morning will tell us how Narendra Modi is going to handle the biggest terrorist incident of his time as the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy that he aspires to make a strong, front league nation.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/