GUWAHATI, Sept 19 - Militants of the North East region, who are staying in Myanmar, may face logistic and other problems after the demise of the NSCN(K) chairman SS Khaplang and the security agencies are keeping a close watch on the situation.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that according to an estimate, the total strength of the militants of the North East in Myanmar would be around 2,000. The NSCN(K) has the highest number of at least seven to eight hundred armed militants apart from a large number of sympathizers. The security agencies have estimated the strength of the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) to be around two hundred while, the strength of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (S) is around 150. All the Manipur-based outfits also have sizeable strength in Myanmar.
Sources said that as Khaplang belonged to Myanmar, he had hold over the area and many Naga villagers along the international border directly or indirectly supported the NSCN(K). Most of the militant groups of the region used the facilities of the NSCN(K) in Myanmar. In fact, the militants of the North East have to take passes issued by the village heads on the other side of the international border to pass through to sneak into India and this system has been going on for some time.
But after the demise of Khaplang, Khango Konyak has taken over as the chairman of the NSCN (K) and he is originally from India. That is why it is doubtful whether Konyak manages to have the same hold over the Naga villages located across the international border. If Konyak fails to maintain the hold over those areas, all the militant groups of the North East will have logistic problems and their movement through the Naga villages will also be restricted, sources said.
Moreover, Khaplang, was like a father figure to the militant outfits having bases in Myanmar and he also headed the umbrella organization formed by the outfits. Though the ULFA(I) commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah also played a key role in the formation of the umbrella outfit and was considered the deputy of Khaplang in the common platform, it is doubtful whether all the outfits accept him as the leader, sources pointed out.
Meanwhile, sources admitted that despite the presence of the Assam Rifles along the international border, the militants are still sneaking into India from their bases in Myanmar by taking advantage of the terrain. But it is a fact that it is increasingly becoming difficult for the militants to move in large groups because of intensified counter insurgency operations in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Those three districts of Arunachal Pradesh, through which the militants mostly pass through to enter other parts of the region from their bases in Myanmar, have been put under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and counter insurgency operations in the area have been intensified, which restricted free movement of the ultras.