The shattering of tranquility by staccato sounds of gunfire following escalated clashes between the Buddhist insurgent group Arakan Army (AA) and Myanmar Army (MA) in Rakhine State of Myanmar may push the Northeast India into turmoil.
Due to the ongoing civil war in Myanmar, the Centre has alerted Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur asking the Border Security Force, ITBP, Shastra Seema Bal and Assam Rifles to stop infiltration of insurgents in Northeast.
The four Northeast states share 1,625 km porous borders with Myanmar. The threat faced by these states is understandable as the Centre is creating a special Indo-Myanmar Border Force (IMBF) to safeguard Northeast from cross border terrorism.
The IMBF would have 29 battalions from the 25 battalions of Assam Rifles and 4 battalions from Indo-Tibetan Border Police to patrol the border to the Zero Line or No Man’s Land between India and Myanmar. The IMBF will also carry out counter-insurgency operations along with Border Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal and the ITBP.
Though the four Northeast states had been facing the brunt of insurgency in Myanmar for decades together, the current situation is different as the AA announced it would continue the war to achieve its goal of The Way of Rakhita: the doctrine of total independence of Rakhine State.
If the war prolongs, the Northeast will suffer terribly as problems will not remain localized only in the four states but spread invariably engulfing Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.
The AA has already stepped up of gun-running, dumping of arms in the four states, drug trade, gold smuggling, running of fake Indian currency rackets and cross-border infiltrations. The rebels injured in wars are also sneaking into Northeast for medical treatments.
Arakan Army: Bold & Dreadful
The civil war, now gripping Rakhine State where AA runs its parallel governments in scores of villages dotting the Indo-Myanmar borders, is already spilling in Northeast beefing up insurgency which is now in a low key.
Since the Myanmar Army is flushing out the AA-rebels, they are sneaking into the Northeast creating major security risks. We know AA and Myanmar’s Kachin National Army were instrumental in the growth of insurgency in the Northeast.
Rakhine, Shan, Chin and Kachin states of Myanmar were traditional hotbeds of Indian insurgency groups including the United Liberation Front of Manipur and Kuki National Front. In 1980, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) was formed in Myanmar.
After Six years, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) formed an alliance secretly with the NSCN. Both NSCN and ULFA have very strong relationship with the Kachin Independence Organisation of Myanmar.
As there are 250 villages with a population of 300,000 in the four Northeast states having 150 crossing borders within 10 kilometer of Myanmar, the AA rebels entered there whenever army launched operations against them. The insurgents also take advantage of the free movement regime up to 16 kilometers on either side of the border.
The security risk of Northeast began in 2009 when the AA started its “Liberation War.” The AA is strongly anti-India and promoted by China.
The NE and Great Arakanese Imbroglio
The ongoing civil war is an offshoot of the Great Arakanese Imbroglio that began decades ago with the formation of a coalition ethnic insurgent entity known as Northern Alliance (NA).
Amlan Home Chowdhury
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