The decades-long insurgency problem in the Northeastern states of India has been a menace that several central governments have tried to nip in the bud but failed. However, the Narendra Modi government has brought India’s neighbouring country Myanmar on the table, and together the two countries are looking to quash the insurgents that are allegedly being backed by the Chinese. The third phase of the lethal ‘Operation Sunrise’ is expected to be initiated anytime soon as various insurgent groups continue their congregation along the Indo-Myanmar border.
According to a report in Zee News, the Myanmar army has launched Operation Sunrise-3 in the Sagaing Division, mainly due to the latest input of insurgents groups consolidating its position from Sagaing and other areas to Northern Chin state.
“Specialized Myanmar Army units are engaged to carry out combing operations in search of NSCN-K and other groups at various places in the Sagaing region of Myanmar. Infantry units of the Myanmar army is also carrying out operation towards the eastern side of Manipur river,” said an Indian Security officer aware of these developments to Zee News.
India and Myanmar had conducted phase 1 of ‘Operation Sunrise’ between February 17 and March 2 last year to crack down on the Arakan Army bases. The second Operation Sunrise operation was conducted by the Myanmar army on its own side with moderate success.
The third phase is expected to take on the insurgents who are conspiring to infiltrate into the Indian side through the Mizoram border.
Arakan Army, NSCN (IM)—insurgent groups having the backing of China
The Arakan Army (AA) which was quashed in the first phase of the operation shares strong links with China ever since its inception in the Kachin province in 2009.
Reported by TFI, AA spokesperson, KhaineTukkha had recently stated, “China recognises us while India does not”. China is supporting the Arakan Army to safeguard its investments in Myanmar, while New Delhi cooperates with Myanmar as a true ally.
This is the reason why the Arakan Army has not targeted the Chinese deep seaport at Kyaukphyu, but has constantly disrupted India’s ambitious Kaladan project in Myanmar by kidnapping India’s road and bridge construction workers. On completion, the Kalakan project will help connect Mizoram with the Sittwe Port in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Global Times issuing a threat to New Delhi and a subsequent attack on the Indian troops
The recent attack on the Indian Army in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap sector that led to the death of an Assam Rifles soldier is also being attributed to an insurgent group that has the backing of China.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, Tuesday’s attack by the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) came a week after China’s propaganda mouthpiece ‘Global Times’ warned the Narendra Modi government against signing a much-speculated trade pact with Taiwan, threatening that Beijing could retaliate by supporting Northeast separatists and stop recognizing Sikkim as a part of India.
“If India takes the move to support “Taiwan independence, China has every reason to support separatist forces in Northeast Indian states such as Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland. China could even support the resurrection of Sikkim.” read the editorial in Global Times.
NSCN (I-M) has been engaged in peace talks with the Indian government and yet the timing of the attack cannot be a mere coincidence after the Chinese media outlet made a veiled threat of possible retaliatory action. China has been constantly using the strategy of bolstering insurgent groups to achieve its foreign policy and specific bilateral goals.
A couple of years ago, a former Army officer and member of the strategic think-tank, Centre of East and North East Regional Studies in Kolkata (CENERS-K), Lt. General J R Mukherjee, had revealed that China aids insurgents in the Northeast whenever there is a certain degree of embitterment in bilateral ties. Therefore, whenever things don’t go the way Beijing wants, Beijing tries to take New Delhi by ransom by aiding insurgent groups in the Northeast.
Myanmar through the operation is looking to give a bloody nose to China-backed insurgent operatives in the region. The coming few months could be ‘make or break’ moment for the Indo-Myanmar armed forces and if the previous operations serve any reminder, the rebel groups are in for a beating.