by Nava Thakuria, World War 4 Report

The militant outfits of Northeast India, who are operating from the jungles of northern Burma (Myanmar), have a hard time ahead. As India and Burma have strengthened their strategic relationship, it is understood that Indian separatist groups will face more attacks in Burmese soil. Burmese President Thein Sein’s October visit to India is seen as a signal that the crackdown on the separatists may go intensive in the coming weeks

One of the active armed groups of India, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), has admitted that their camps in Burma have been facing offensives from the Burmese military in recent weeks. ULFA military chief Paresh Baruah is reported to have received bullet wounds. The news cannot be confirmed by the Burmese government at Nay Pie Taw, which has little visibility in these remote areas which have in reality been ruled by the arms and drug mafias for decades now. The ULFA report indicates that the Burmese regime may now be moving to clear the region of militant groups.

The Sagaing region (formerly a “division”) of Burma is used for shelter by many militant groups, including the ULFA, the SS Khaplang-led faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, the Manipur People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) of Manipur, and the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK). They each have hundreds of trained cadres in their hideouts in the jungles of northern Burma.

In response to reports, the ULFA asserted that its leader Paresh Baruah had not received any injuries in the offensive, and released a photograph of the elusive ULFA leader. The email statement charged that that the Indian central government in New Delhi had paid a huge amount of arms and money to the Burmese regime to open its offensive against the ULFA.

It is public record that the Indian government had recently supplied 52 military trucks loaded with arms and ammunition to the Burmese government. India has sought to build a strategic and military relationship with the Burmese regime even after receiving brickbats from the international community. Expressing resentment at India’s continued military relationship with Nay Pie Taw, hundreds of pro-democracy Burmese activists and various Indian civil society groups demonstrated in New Delhi on July 22, arguing that “supplying arms to the most brutal military dictatorship may have grave consequences to millions of innocent lives.”

The demonstrators also sent a memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to renew New Delhi’s support of the Burmese people’s movement for restoration of peace and democracy in Burma. Till the early ’90s, the Indian government supported the democratic movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But later it changed the course and started engaging the military regime then known as the State Peace and Development Council. “We believe that India is a nation founded on sound democratic principles and time and again India has proven to uphold the principles of constitutionally elected governments,” the statement read. “Further, as a nation committed to playing an important, if not pivotal role in maintaining peace in the region, it is unbecoming…to supply arms to countries known for abusing military power.” The letter was signed by nearly hundred Indian civil society groups and Burmese dissident leaders.

The ULFA, which was born in 1979 to win Assam’s independence from India, today is a divided house, as its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa with his followers have joined in the peace process with New Delhi. However, ULFA’s commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah continues sticking to the primary demand for a Swadhin Asom (Sovereign Assam). The intransigent leader is said to have left Bangladesh recently and now is believed to reside somewhere in Burma-China border areas, where from he leads his self-proclaimed “armed struggle.”

Paresh Baruah’s close associate Arunoday Dahotiya issues e-mails on behalf of the UFLA. He flatly charged that New Delhi “paid a special economic package worth as high as Indian Rupees 20,000 crores [1 crore = 10 million] to flush out the rebel camps from the Burmese soil. Additionally, the Burmese government is offered [by Indian government] Rs 100 crore to kill Paresh Baruah.”

It additionally charged that New Delhi has before paid neighboring countries for such purposes. The Indian government paid a 1,000-crore Rs package to Bhutan to destroy ULFA camps there, Arunoday Dahotiya claimed. Indeed, Bhutanese troops flushed out the ULFA camps in December 2003.

The Indian government is also said to have offered money to the Bangladeshi government with a request to take actions against the ULFA leaders and cadres taking shelter in that country. Accordingly, Dhaka handed over many militant leaders—including ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa—to the Indian authorities in 2009. Though India and Bangladesh do not have an extradition treaty, the Bangladeshi authorities arrested the militant leaders and secretly handed them over to India. No official statement was issued by the Bangladesh government on the matter, and even the Bangladeshi newspapers had to depend on India’s media to report about on the issue.

Whatever the truth of the UFLA’s claims, Burmese pro-democracy dissidents as well as separatist guerillas may find themselves betrayed by New Delhi’s growing alignment with the military regime.


From our Daily Report:

Burma: eco-dissidents score win over state hydro-hurbis
World War 4 Report, Oct. 2, 2011

India: more terror in Assam
World War 4 Report, Dec. 23, 2008

Maoist terror in Bhutan?
World War 4 Report, Jan. 24, 2008

Oil cartel eyes Nagaland; factional strife in guerilla struggle
World War 4 Report, April 13, 2007

Burma resumes crackdown on Naga guerillas
World War 4 Report, Jan. 12, 2006

From our Archive:

India: “Ultra” Terror Explodes in Northeast
World War 4 Report, October 2004

US-India Terror Summit: Who is the Enemy?
World War 4 Report, September 2004

See also:

Converging Conflicts in Northeast India
by Nava Thakuria, World War 4 Report
World War 4 Report, December 2008

Special to World War 4 Report, Nov. 1, 2011
Reprinting permissible with attribution