GUWAHATI, Feb 23 � Links of the militant groups of North East with China have come to the fore yet again as Indian security agencies have come to know about a meeting that the leaders of the militant groups had with officials of the Government of China in April, 2010.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that leaders of the militant groups like UNLF and PLA of Manipur, chairman of the NSCN (K), SS Khaplang and the commander in chief of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Paresh Baruah among others attended the meeting held in Ruili in Yunan Province of China.
Sources revealed that according to information available with Indian security agencies, from the Chinese side, officials of the Public Security Bureau attended the meeting. As per reports available, the militant groups of North East were seeking help from China individually and the officials reportedly told the leaders of the outfits that for getting help from China, the militant groups must launch coordinated operations instead of fighting Indian forces individually. "As per information available, the instruction to the militant leaders was that they must launch coordinated operations to ensure disturbance in North East. The Chinese are of the view that while the insurgents are creating trouble in Jammu and Kashmir and the Maoists bleeding India in the mainland, the militant groups should keep up the level of violence in the North East," sources added.
However, the security agencies are not yet sure whether the militant groups have taken any decision to launch joint operations in the region. Sources pointed out that the major militant groups of the region had formed the Indo-Burma Revolutionary Front (IBRF) in 1992, which is now almost defunct. However, the possibility of revival of the umbrella body following the discussion in China cannot be ruled out, sources added.
Commenting on Chinese authorities' action of granting visa to Paresh Baruah, sources said that the visa was given against the Bangladeshi passport used by the ULFA leader in the name of Kamrul Zaman Khan. However, most of the militant leaders visit China without any visa from their bases in Myanmar and only once Baruah required the visa when he had travelled to China from Bangladesh.
On the whereabouts of Paresh Baruah, sources said that as per intelligence inputs, the ULFA leader is now in Myanmar. "As per our information, Baruah is now staying near a base of the NSCN(K) in the Taka area of Myanmar for the last few months. The area is near the international border between India and Myanmar and can be reached after around seven days of trekking. But the leaders of the militant outfits can travel to the area easily from Ruili in China by vehicles," sources added. Baruah has at least 150 cadres of the outfit with him in Myanmar and the possibility of the supporters of the hardcore ULFA leader indulging in violence and extortion in the runup to the elections cannot be ruled out.
Sources also said that in recent times, there have been reports of the NSCN (I-M) procuring weapons from China to modernize and augment their weaponry and recently, one senior leader of the outfit, Anthony Shimrey was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on such a charge. The weapons are brought through Myanmar and it is believed that the militant outfit, which is under a cease-fire agreement, is still procuring weapons as they believe that availability of weapons would give them leverage in talks with the Government.