Fri 27 Apr 2007
Filed under: News,On The Border
Guwahati: Myanmar has promised to step up military action against all Indian separatist rebels operating from its territory, an Indian official said Friday following security talks between the neighbours.
Myanmar made the promise after a series of meetings between visiting Brigadier General Tin Maung Ohn and senior Indian army officers, the official said.
“The Myanmar army has assured us (they will) step up the fight against militants from the northeastern states,” said the Indian army commander, who asked not to be named.
The meetings were held in Guwahati, the main city in India’s state of Assam.
Another officer, Lieutenant General Paramjit Singh, described Yangon’s decision as “a breakthrough” as in the past, Myanmar has acted against just one group — the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland’s Khaplang faction.
The group says it is fighting for an independent tribal homeland in India’s Nagaland state and says its general headquarters is situated in Myanmar.
India and Myanmar share a 1,640 kilometre (1,000 mile) unfenced border, allowing militants from the northeast to use the adjoining country as a springboard to carry out hit-and-run guerrilla strikes on Indian troops.
New Delhi has been asking Myanmar to flush out all the rebels, including the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), regarded as the most powerful among the 30-odd separatist groups in India’s northeast.
The ULFA, which wants an independent homeland in Assam, is on the run after the Indian army intensified operations against them in January following a wave of killings and bombings blamed on the group.
“The ULFA militants have sneaked into their bases in Myanmar. If (Myanmar) launches an operation it would be easier for us to deal with militancy here,” said another senior Indian army source.
Besides the ULFA and Naga rebels, at least three other militant groups from the insurgency ridden northeast are believed to have training camps across the border.
“There are about 20,000 guerrillas in Myanmar belonging to various groups of the northeast,” Kughalo Mulatonu, a Khaplang faction leader, told AFP by telephone.
Last year, Myanmar targetted Mulatonu’s group, killing at least a dozen rebels and overrunning many bases.
More than 50,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in the northeast since India’s independence in 1947.