National security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special envoy for the Northeast, R N Ravi, are scheduled to attend the signing of a ceasefire deal between the Myanmar government and eight insurgent groups Thursday, government sources told The Indian Express.
The ceasefire signatories will not include the National Socialist Council of Nagalim’s S S Khaplang-led faction, which was in talks with the Myanmar government in August when it carried out an ambush that claimed the lives of 18 Indian soldiers.
New Delhi had retaliated by striking two insurgent camps across the border in Myanmar, killing seven insurgents.
Former Mizoram CM Zoramthanga is also travelling with the Indian delegation. A key point-man for New Delhi’s outreach to insurgent groups in the Northeast, Zoramthanga has been involved in negotiations between the Myanmar government and the United Nationalities Federation Council, a group of ethnic armies.
Thursday’s high-profile ceremony in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, will also be witnessed by diplomats from the European Union, China and Japan. The agreement, Indian government sources said, commits both sides to peaceful negotiations.
Most of the groups signing the agreement are from the Karen region adjoining Thailand, for long a stronghold of narcotics-linked insurgents. Karen National Union, Democratic Benevolent Karen Army, Karen Peace Council, Arakan Liberation Party, All-Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Palaung National Liberation Organisation, and Chin National Front will be present to sign the ceasefire, Myanmar government officials said.
However, Kachen National Union leaders, representing Myanmar’s oldest ethnic insurgency, seem divided in their support for the ceasefire. The group’s vice-chairperson, Naw Zipporah Sein, turned down an invitation to attend the ceremony.
Leaders of the Kokang insurgents and the Kachin Independence Army, which hold territories along the northern border with China from where large-scale smuggling of drugs and gems have been reported, will also not be represented, along with the Mon State Party, Karenni National Progressive Party and the Ta-ang National Liberation Army.
President Thein Sein had earlier said these groups will be able to enter a ceasefire after elections scheduled for next month.