Opinion: Indo-Myanmar Standoff : Battle Without Bloodshed

NSCN(K) chairman SS Khaplang
NSCN(K) chairman SS Khaplang
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Pranab Kumar Gogoi

Without a single gunshot a military column of 400 troops of six battalions, under the Hkamti District Command of North West Command of Myanmar Army (the army command that keep watch on the cross border activities adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland of Indian side), on Tuesday, launched a massive attack on the General Headquarter of NSCN (K), situated at Taga of Nanyun Township of Northern Burma without a single casualty.

Importance of Taga

Taga is a suburban hilly area township on the bank of Chindwin River near, Nanyun, at Naga self-administered Zone of Sagaing Region of Northern Burma, the housing of several dread militant outfits like PLA, UNLF, PREPAK, ULFA and NSCN (K).

Previous precedent of bloodless offensive

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Earlier on 25th of July, Burmese Army led a serious armed offensive on the several transit camps of NSCN (K) at Sagaing, forcing the rebels cadre to flee to the nearby area without any war casualties. Moreover, on 17th October 2011, Myanmar army led a major offensive on UNLF camp and ablaze several camps situated at Taga, however, no casualties reported from both sides. The assault was only to drive the cadres away from the camps to send a message to India only.

Role of Transit Camps at Sagaing

Transit camps of NSCN (K) were used as the major supply point for providing logistic support to the other militant groups of the Northeast. Apart from providing logistic supports of food, clothes and medicine these camps afford basic training for recruits before their entry to GHQ.

Reasons for bloodless offensive by Myanmar Army 

  • People from same ethnic origin: The Nagas living in both side of international border belong to same ethnic origin. Therefore there were some emotional bindings of people on both sides of the international border.
  • Ceasefire Agreement between Myanmar Army and NSCN (K): In a major diplomatic development NSCN (K) offered a peace package to the Myanmar Government in 2012, hence on the month of April a truce has been signed between the two considering it as “bilateral ceasefire agreement’ On behalf of Myanmar Government Col. Kyi Naing, Minister for Security and Border Affair of Myanmar Government, signed the truce with NSCN (K) counterpart Y Wanting (Popularly known as wanting Naga) and with six top guns at Khamti in Sagaing Province.
  • Salient features of truce: The truce highlights the mutual support and corporation between Myanmar Army and NSCN (K) in ethnic Naga Self Administered areas of Northern Myanmar. The Sagaing region, as well as its nearby Chin state, is one of the most under the developed area in terms of health, electricity, education and other means of lively hood. The same phenomena are much prevalent in the Chin State near to the Sagaing region.
Transit camps of NSCN (K) were used as the major supply point for providing logistic support to the other militant groups of the Northeast
Transit camps of NSCN (K) were used as the major supply point for providing logistic support to the other militant groups of the Northeast
  • Welfare activities of NSCN (K) in Myanmar & accessibility of Myanmar Army:
    The truce opened a way for the all-around socio-economical expansion in the most underdeveloped region of interior Northern Myanmar. NSCN (K) cadres started to interact with local villagers with the limited logistic support of day to day life needs. Similarly, the Myanmar administration entered freely to those areas with a bouquet of health, education and infrastructural development to the rural mass living in hilly jungle areas.
  • Benefits of NSCN (K): Because of those reasons as mentioned above, the military offensive policy of Myanmar Army is much lenient to NSCN ( K) and other outfits of Northeast, and seriously avoid stiff-armed confrontation inside their territorial land. Not only these the unarmed NSCN ( K) cadres can move freely in Naga-dominated areas like Lahe, Leshin, Nayun and Rakhine areas and earned other civil supports from the local Myanmar people.
  • Benefits of Myanmar Army: The truce helped Myanmar army in many ways. They had shifted their military operation to other conflict zones in Shan State and Kachin where armed conflict is going in full length.
  • The formation of United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia: The truce helped a lot to form a joined command of all militant outfits of Southeast Asia conglomerating all rebel outfits of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura along with its ethnic outfits like Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO), NDFB etc.

Challenge of NSCN (K) in Myanmar

The bilateral ceasefire is helping only safe harbouring of  NSCN(K) in Myanmar but it is not beneficial for obtaining direct political mileage rather it had brought the whole process to a stagnancy.

It happened because NSCN (K) refused to join in the Panglong Conference organized by United Nations Federal Council (UNFC), where all ethnic rebel outfits, recognized by Myanmar Government united together.

In fact, political agenda of NSCN (K) is the only obstacle rebutting their move for joint assimilation in common platform, raised for ethnic rebel outfits, as they are demanding territorial land of Myanmar for independent Nagalim, which is always ruled out by Burmese Government.

Diplomatic crisis for Government of India

India Government is mounting tremendous pressure on Myanmar Government opposing the peace agreement with NSCN(K), but because of maintaining the equilibrium of other  Southeast Asian diplomatic equation they are sidelining the request of the India Government. Neither of the countries wishes to upset apple cart uniting the political relations between India and Myanmar. However, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval visited several times to Myanmar to convince for the military operation against the rebel outfits. Future is yet uncertain to give a concrete reply to the decade-old crisis.

The views expressed by the author are personal and may not in any way represent those of TIME8.