GUWAHATI, Oct 2 - Over the years, the militant groups of the North East, who were taking shelter in Myanmar, developed a network for exchanging Indian Rupees into Myanmar�s currency Kyat and that is why, they could send the money collected in India directly to the neighbouring country without trying to convert it.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that for years, the militants used to send the money collected directly to the leaders of the outfits taking shelter in Myanmar without bothering to convert it. The militants had developed a good network through which they could easily convert Indian currency into Myanmar�s.
There was a time when the militant groups managed to extort substantial amounts of money and sent it to their bases in the countries like Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh. But the situation has changed drastically over the years. The militant groups lost their bases in Bhutan and Bangladesh and this year, they lost most of their camps in Myanmar after Myanmar Army launched an operation from January 29 this year. The flow of funds to the militant groups has also trickled down and security sources said that almost all the militant groups of the region are facing severe financial crunch.
Sources said that though the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) has been making some efforts to collect funds and leaders of the outfit called up businessmen in upper Assam areas, most of the persons who received such calls refused to pay up.
�Of course, the militants are still receiving small amounts and we received reports that some amounts of money were recently collected from Sonari area and sent to Nagaland, but no major amount exchanged hands,� sources said.
Sources revealed that in recent times, the ULFA(I) was not in a position to send its own cadres to collect money and linkmen and sympathizers are sent to do the job. In one case, it was reported that a few businessmen were asked to hand over money in Nagaland. But it is a fact that the militants are facing severe financial crunch and they are surviving in Myanmar only with the help of the NSCN (K), sources added. After the camps of the militants were taken over by Myanmar Army, the militants are mostly staying in the Naga villages in Myanmar and from the confessional statements of the recently surrendered ultras, police and security agencies came to know that the ultras are even facing shortage of food.
However, one major risk is that there is a strong possibility of militants selling off weapons to criminal elements because of the financial hardship that they are facing and several such cases have already been reported and there were instances when poachers killed rhinos in Kaziranga National Park by using weapons bought from militants.