Military Denies Staging Joint Operations with India Against Anti-Delhi Rebels

By Chit Min Tun 18 June 2019

YANGON—The Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) has denied reports by Indian news agencies that the armed forces of the two countries have been conducting joint military operations against rebel groups fighting the Indian government from bases along the border.

According to the reports, the Indian and Myanmar armed forces have conducted joint military operations against outposts of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) and the Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO), which are active along Myanmar’s borders with the Indian states of Manipur, Nagaland and Assam.

“There was no joint military operation in the sense of their troops coming into our country, or our troops going into their country. But there is cooperation in arresting [rebels] and holding joint meetings. In that regard, however, we cooperate not only with India, but also with other neighbors,” said Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun of the Tatmadaw True News Information Team.

According to the Indian Express newspaper, Indian and Myanmar military personnel carried out the joint military operation “Sunshine-1” in February and March and another, “Sunshine-2” from May 16 to June 8. The two military operations captured eight military outposts and arrested around 80 rebels, the paper reported.

India and Myanmar have held regular meetings on border security since February this year, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said.

“Around four or five months ago, we arrested Assam and Meitei rebels who had undergone training in Myanmar. So, we launched an investigation and found that they were stationed in the areas controlled by the NSCN-K. We carried out clearance operations and issued a press statement about it,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity, a source close to the NSCN-K also denied there had been any joint military operations between India and Myanmar.

The Tatmadaw’s Northwestern Command raided the headquarters of the NSCN-K in the Naga Self-Administered Zone of Sagaing Division on Jan. 29, and later arrested Assam and Meitei rebels from there.

The Tatmadaw filed a complaint against 24 rebels under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act. At their sixth hearing, the Hkamti District Court sentenced them to two years in prison.

According to the Tatmadaw, the jailed rebels belong to the Manipur People’s Army (MPA), the ULFA, Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), the People’s Liberation Army of Manipur (PLA) and the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK).

Five senior leaders of the NSCN-K are also facing trial under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act. Their seventh court hearing is scheduled for June 21.

Major-General Tun Tun Nyi of the Myanmar military said at a press conference in early June that the Tatmadaw would continue fighting armed groups who are staging rebellions against the Indian government.

New Delhi has declared the NSCN-K, KLO, ULFA, NDFB, MPA, KYKL and PLA unlawful associations. The Myanmar government signed a regional level ceasefire agreement with the NSCN-K in April 2012.

Indian Defense Ministry Secretary Sanjay Mitra and other officials paid a call on Myanmar Army chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing on May 16 in Naypyitaw. According to the Commander-in-Chief’s Office, the two sides discussed border stability and development, and the implementation of stability measures according to the “Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence”, a set of guidelines for international relations first laid out by China, India and Myanmar in the 1950s.

The Indian Naval vessels INS Saryu and INS Bangaram made a goodwill visit to Myanmar from May 26-28. On June 10, Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing received Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Saurabh Kumar, and the two discussed the promotion of friendship and cooperation between the two countries’ militaries.

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