By- Nava Thakuria
The militant outfits from Northeast India, who are operating from the jungles of northern Burma (Myanmar), have a hard time ahead. As India and Burma have strengthened its strategic relationship, it is understood that Indian separatist groups would face more attacks in Burmese soil. Moreover, it may go intensive in the next few weeks as the Burmese president Thein Sein is visiting India in October 2011.
One of the active armed groups of India, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has admitted that their camps in Burma are facing offensives from the Burmese soldiers. The news cannot be confirmed from the Burmese government at Nay Pie Taw, as it has little visibility in these remote areas which are in reality being ruled by the arms and drugs mafia for decades now. Of course, the version of ULFA leaders indicates that some kind of confrontations between the Burmese forces and Northeastern militant groups may be going on there. Even the unconfirmed media reports suggested that the Burmese authority maintained its offensive against the separatist militants for many weeks and the ULFA military chief Paresh Baruah received bullet injuries.
The Sagaing division of Burma is used for shelter by many militants including the ULFA; SS Khaplang (a Burmese) led National Socialist Council of Nagaland, Manipur People’s Liberation Army, UNLF and Prepak. They have nearly 300 trained cadres in their hideouts inside the jungles of northern Burma.A recent statement from the ULFA camp revealed that their hideouts inside Burma were attacked by the government forces, but it claimed that all of their cadres escaped unhurt. Later another statement from ULFA claimed that Paresh Baruah had not received any injuries in the offensive. To prove their claims, the statement added a photograph of the illusive ULFA leader. It is the second photograph of Paresh Baruah, which has been released by the militant outfit itself in the last few months.
The Indian intelligence has reportedly no recent photographs of Paresh Baruah except some pix taken in Bhutan camps before December 2003. The email statement, issued by Paresh Baruah’s close associate Arunodoy Dohotiya went on alleging that that the Indian central government in New Delhi had paid a huge amount of arms and money to the Burmese regime to go offensive against the ULFA militants.
Mentionable is that the Indian government had recently supplied 52 military trucks load of arms and ammunition to the Burmese government. India maintained its strategic and military relationship with the Burmese regime even after receiving brickbats from the international community. Expressing resentment at New Delhi’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, 2011 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 Dr. Manmohan Singh urging him to renew New Delhi’s support the Burmese people’s movement for restoration of peace and democracy in Burma.
Till the early nineties, Indian government supported the democratic movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But later it changed the course and started engaging the then military regime named State Peace and Development Council for various bi-lateral relationships.
“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. Further as a nation committed to playing an important, if not pivotal role in maintaining peace in the region, it is unbecoming of a responsible nation to supply arms to countries known for abusing military power,” stated the memorandum, which was signed by nearly hundred Indian civil society groups and individuals with many Burmese organizations.
The ULFA, which was born in 1979 to make Assam independent out of India three decades back, 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. The notorious leader is understood to leave Bangladesh recently and now stay somewhere in Burma-China border areas, where from he and his followers are maintaining their so-called armed struggle. Arunodoy Dahotiya’s mail clearly claimed that New Delhi ‘paid a special economic package worth as high as Indian Rupees 20,000 crores 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’ within this September, added the statement. It had more to add that New Delhi maintained the practice (to pay neighboring countries in need) since long back. The Indian government paid Rs 1000 crore package to Bhutan to destroy ULFA, following which Thimphu flushed out the ULFA camps inside south Bhutan in December 2003, Arunodoy Dohotiya claimed.
The Indian government had recently offered money to the Bangladesh government led by Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina 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 Indian authority. Though India and Bangladesh does not have an extradition treaty, the Bangladesh authority arrested the militant leaders and secretly handed 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 the important issue.