India’s Myanmar Operation: An Insight into the Cross-border Raid signaling a Strong Intent

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On 9th June, 2015 a befitting response by the Indian government marked its place in history, and has proved to be a bench mark for the rest of the world. It elucidated the new stand of the country on counter terrorism slash insurgency measures sending out a strong message that now the time has arrived when India would no longer continue to remain soft target. This response, was a covert military operation in Myanmar, which was a jolt from the India, to the insurgent groups operating in the North-Easter part of the country. Very first of its kind that has remained as headlines across the country, it highlighted the dawn of an era, where India would not tolerate anyone infringing its sovereignty.

This operation was in retaliation to the attack on 4th June, 2015 by the insurgent group called the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) on the Indian Army. In this attack, approximately 18 army personals had died and 11 others were wounded, who served in the 6 Dogra Regiment, this being the biggest blow to the Indian army in the last 20 years. It was for the first time that an insurgent group had used rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) in an attack. This attack happened in the new Samtal area of the Chandel district in Manipur, which is approximately at a distance of 15-20 kms from the India-Myanmar border.

Following this attack on 5th June, a highly classified meeting was called in, at which the present Home Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh, Defense Minister Mr. Manohar Parikar, Army Commander Mr. Dalbir Suhag and National Security Advisor Mr. Ajeet Dowal participated and showed green to the initiation of a covert operation. It was for this classified meeting and the subsequent preparations that were to be made that Mr. Suhag and Mr. Dowal had skipped their scheduled visits to the United Kingdom and Bangladesh, respectively. Army Commander made visits to Manipur for the supervision of the training of the commandoes taking part in the operation. On the other hand, National Security Advisor had followed Prime Minister’s command and had ensure a ‘swift attack’ on the proclaimed target. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Satellite Imagery were being utilized for conducting this operation. Search operations by the army were consequently conducted so as to track down the militants involved in the attack, and their ultimate finding was the location of the NCSN near to the border, within the Myanmarese territory. This mission was severely a critical one and a single mistake would have resulted in jeopardizing the entire mission and thereby deteriorating India’s position on strengthening the motivations of the hostile groups.

Before, the D-day on 8th June, commandoes were deployed at the Nagaland-Manipur junction of the Indian-Myanmar junction with the help of the helicopters flown by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the target being the two militant camps located approximately 5 kms inside the Myanmar border. These camps were situated at the Ponyu/Kemphu and Aungzeya areas, which in turn was a home to various militants’ camps.

On 9th June, the army personnel trekked through the heavy jungles to the location of these militant camps and carried the operation without any disruptions. As per the independent sources, the militant group was surprised by the nature of the attack and did not have the time to respond to the perfectly planned military operation and as a result, their nest at Myanmar’s border was breached, which was believed to be an impossible task for Indian Military.

The actual operation took about 45 minutes resulting in zero casualties on the Indian side. This was an operation, which was performed efficiently with minimal scope for the militants to respond to this line of course. As per the Official statements, which was declared by the government, around 50 militants were killed in this operation whereas as per the other media sources, it was claimed that around 100 deaths had been asserted. However the details regarding these were still uncertain.

This operation witnessed mixed reactions from all the corners of the nation and also opened a bundle of windows for the raised eyebrows and applause. The Indian Government’s machinery stated this as an operation which had strengthened the pillars of sovereignty of the country while on the flipside argued that Myanmar’s stand of denial of any such operation being carried out on its land and its condemnation of the operations of foreign attackers disturbing its neighboring countries had cost India its friendly relations with the neighboring country however pointing out zero tolerance towards terror.

Several Ministerial statements following this mission in Myanmar by the Indian Army have clarified that any activity going on in the border States that could adversely affect the safety, security and national integrity of India will be not be ignored and would be met out with a firm response.

One has to ponder upon the fact that such responses are highly political in nature that could cause turmoil in the international relations that India has maintained since time immemorial. On a concluding note, it must be realized that international cooperation has always been the key for resolution of concerns and therefore an effective and detailed scrutiny is called for with regard to such decisions that could possibly hamper and halt the peaceful coexistence with the neighbors that has remained fragile for a long span of time.

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