Visiting Myanmar Home Minister Major General Maung Oo assured Home Minister Shivraj Patil that his nation will co-operate with India to share information at field and national level on insurgent movements, border management, and drug trafficking.
The promise is very significant to India as it has been trying to convince Yangon to check cross-border movement of terrorists and drug traffickers and have not gotten the desired response till this visit by Oo. Patil promised Myanmar assistance, training, and capacity-building to facilitate the easy implementation of this promise.
For a while now, New Delhi has received reports of efforts by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to set up camps along the Myanmar-Manipur border. This was confirmed through the arrest of three Manipur youth suspected of terrorist activities and affiliation with the LeT. Additionally, some anti-India insurgent camps are also being operated from within Myanmar and these are also being targeted for neutralization.
Neither side disclosed how the promise will be implemented but speculation is rife that a Indo-Bhutan like joint operation against the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to tackle the militant camps is in the offing.
Interestingly, this announcement coincides with the impending arrival of Naga separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah from Amsterdam saying that “this time around there is more hope and expectations are high.” Invited by the Prime Minister, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M) is a powerful separatist rebel group fighting since 1947 for a separate homeland for the mainly Christian Naga people on the border with Myanmar. After more than 50 rounds of negotiations, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire in 1997 and talks then graduated to a higher plane and now there is talk of “a special federal arrangement” to accommodate some kind of self-governance for the Nagas. Muivah says his group is “firm” on their demands but was tightlipped on what those are. Apparently, a Group of Ministers had met with the NSCN(I-M) team in Amsterdam and determined that the groups are close to agreement and had recommended an invitation by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Government sources say that the rebel group has been told the “limits of flexibility” of the Indian Constitution but it is not known whether a “sub-national Constitution” can or will be accommodated. Besides, this is not the only group demanding something or the other. The NSCN (Khaplang) and this group have been vying for power resulting in the death of scores of cadre and civilians. Besides “self-governance” demands, these rebel groups have been demanding a greater Nagaland with integration of Naga-dominated areas in neighboring Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam. This demand is in direct conflict with alternate groups from these states thus making it complicated spaghetti of demands