Context

  • India is planning to request Myanmar to revoke the existing ceasefire agreement with NSCN-K.

Introduction

  • The 1643 kilometers long border has witnessed gun running, narcotics trafficking, smuggling in contraband and crossings by insurgent groups for achieving their nefarious objectives against the State.
  • In real, both Indian and Myanmar armed forces have been cooperating and at times even carrying out coordinated patrols yet there have been some major incidents on the Indian side which resulted in loss of soldiers’ lives.
  • Since National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), or NSCN (K) abrogated the ceasefire in April 2015 there have been a number of attacks on Indian security forces by the NSCN (K) and its which have resulted in killing of about 40 security personnel so far.
  • But with the death of SS Khaplang, leader of the NSCN (K) on June 6, based in Sagaing Division of Myanmar, there would be increased opportunities for both Indian and Myanmar armed forces to neutralize this insurgent group.
  • After his death, Khango Konyak, who was serving as the vice-chairman of the NSCN-K, was elected the new chief of the banned outfit, which operates from camps in Myanmar.

Recent Development:

  • 2015- Ever since the GOI signed a ceasefire with NSCN-R (new faction) and a framework agreement with NSCN-IM in 2015, NSCN-K renewed their “war of independence” and carried out a number of violent attacks on Indian security personnel and institutions, killing many personnel in the process.
  • June, 2015 – The most horrid attack was on an Army convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district where 18 Army men were killed. In retaliation, the Army conducted an operation along the Myanmar border and destroyed a large number of their camps.
  • September, 2015 – GOI declared NSCN (K) as an unlawful organisation for a period of 5 years, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention), Act 1967. According to PIB, the decision was taken considering the continued hostility and violence on the part of the NSCN (K) against the Indian security personnel, from their bases in Myanmar.
  • June 9, 2017 – S.S.Khaplang died this year in June out of natural causes in Myanmar. KhangoKonyak, who was serving as the vice-chairman of the NSCN-K, was elected the new chief of the outfit.

Myanmar and NSCN-K

April, 2012 – 5 point agreement between NSCN-K and Myanmar Govt.

  • Cessation of armed conflict with the Myanmar army.
  • Opening of a liaison office by NSCN-K at Khamti to facilitate further talks.
  • Coordination among both sides for carrying arms beyond their agreed jurisdiction.
  • Freedom of movement of unarmed NSCN-K cadres within Myanmar.
  • Holding of sustained negotiations.
  • Due to this ceasefire, Myanmar is not being able to help India in flushing out or cornering this outfit.

India-Myanmar Border

  • India and Myanmar share an unfenced border of 1,643 km adjoining Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km) and permit a ‘free movement’ regime up to 16 km across the border.

  • Insurgent groups have formed a network on both sides of the border, smuggling arms and planning anti-India activities. During earlier bilateral meetings, India had handed over a list of over 20 insurgent camps operating in Myanmar, a few kilometers from the Indian border. However, the Myanmar Army denied the existence of any insurgent camps on its territory.
  • Recently, Home Minister Rajnath Singh constituted a committee to examine various methods to curb the misuse of free movement along the Myanmar border, and said that “it was being misused by militants and trans-border criminals who occasionally entered India, committed crimes and escaped to their relatively safer hideouts.”

India-Myanmar Political Context

  • India has made pro-active measures to speed up its infrastructure development projects in Myanmar.
  • While India has extended grants and credits to the tune of 1.75 billion US dollars the implementation of projects has rather been slow.
  • It is VIVEKANANDA INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION for no reason that Myanmar’s strategic community accuses India of not implementing the announced developmental projects in time.
  • It is also quite evident that Myanmar Army has a considerable political role in the present power sharing arrangements ordained by the 2008 Constitution.
  • While that may not be the only reason to engage the Myanmar military yet that adds to a number of reasons as to why India should have a strong military to military relationship with Myanmar.
  • The political relations have been warm and friendly yet there are widely held belief that India has not paid enough attention to developing and strengthening some of the other aspects of the evolving relationship.
  • Though India’s Foreign Secretary visited Myanmar in May this year yet engagement with Myanmar has not been as intense as with some of our other neighbors like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

India-Myanmar defense cooperation

  • Special efforts have been made by the current Indian government to both engage Myanmar’s political and military leadership since May 2014.
  • Myanmar Army chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, had visited India in July 2015. The visit had come about a month or so after Indian troops had carried out strikes against two camps NSCN (K) insurgent group along the Indo-Myanmar border.
  • Gen Hlaing at that time had assured New Delhi that Naypyidaw will not allow use of its territory for activities inimical to India.
  • Both the countries agreed on importance of sound border management as an intrinsic part of maintaining border security.
  • They also determine to work together to resolve issue of unsettled boundary pillars in all sectors.
  • Regular mechanisms for holding Army, Navy and Air Force Staff Talks have also been established as a step towards enhancing the cooperative relationship.
  • Over the years, India has also provided defense equipment and weapon systems Myanmar Navy.

Conclusion

  • India needs to strengthen its strategic relationship with Myanmar which India considers as a gateway as also a launch pad for its ‘Act East Policy’.
  • In congruence with its political relationship India needs to further boost its evolving military to military equation with Myanmar.
  • India needs to further build up capacity of Myanmar armed forces so that not only they can deal with internal challenges but also enable them to provide a secure environment along the land and maritime borders.
  • India needs to examine various methods to curb the misuse of free movement along the Myanmar border.

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