Days after the airstrike in Pakistan’s Balakot, Indian forces in coordination with Myanmar Army conducted a joint operation and claimed to have wiped out militant camps on the eastern border. The action, officials said, averted a possible threat to the ambitious Kaladan transit and transport project considered key for improving the connectivity in the Northeast, officials confirmed.
Government sources said the coordinated operation started on February 17 and was completed on March 2 where several camps of Arakan Army on the Indo-Myanmar border were razed. The officials, however, refrained from giving the number of casualties of militants in the operations.
After the joint operation, media reports in the Northeast claimed that Myanmar Army has taken more than a dozen leaders of the NSCN-K faction into custody after the operation at their base at Taga in Sagaing Division of Myanmar last month, indicating close cooperation between the security forces of the two countries. The Naga insurgent group, responsible for attacks on the Indian Army, is banned in India.
Indian agencies claim that some members of the Arakan Army started moving towards south Myanmar despite the fact that their bases are mostly towards the north of the country.
According to the reports, Arakan Army members managed to set up at least 8-10 camps across the international border with India in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, starting in 2017. Most of the camps were located along the Mizoram-Myanmar border. Ahead of the coordinated operation, Indian and Myanmar armies deployed additional troops along the international border, officials added.
Apart from personnel of the Assam Rifles, primarily responsible for guarding the international border with Myanmar, personnel from the Indian Army, including special forces, were deployed along with surveillance equipment.
The officials, however, maintained that Indian forces did not cross the border and only extended logistic support to Myanmar Army. During the raids, which lasted for over two weeks, all the camps and the makeshift arrangements of Arakan Army were completely destroyed, officials claimed.
While the Indian security establishment said the real motive of Arakan Army movement towards Indian side is unclear, it is possible that the presence of insurgents posed a serious security threat to the Kaladan project.