Myanmar operation: How Sushma Swaraj got the ball rolling

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Bengaluru, June 10: The strikes against the North Eastern militants may have co-incided with the Manipur attack that took place last week in which 18 soldiers were killed.

However, an operation of this nature meant to target and flush out militants from Myanmar was being planned from August 2014 itself and the stage for the same was set up by Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. [Why Myanmar operation can't be replicated in Pakistan?]

sushma swaraj

Myanmar has been cooperative of India's requests barring the one time when it pulled out of a joint military exercise after India had awarded the Nehru Peace Prize to Aung Sang Suu Kyi in 1992.

This had angered the military rulers in Myanmar and they had pulled out of the joint operation which helped militants escape. [Manipur ambush: How the Indian army is flushing out the militants]

Myanmar was reluctant at first:

Myanmar has never been supportive of the militants taking refuge on its soil. However there are a host of issues that concern the nation which also includes the fact that most of these militants have the backing of the Chinese.

When Sushma Swaraj raised the issue in August 2014, Myanmar had agreed to carrying out joint operations, but also stated that the same should not put them in an embarrassing situation.

Following the August 2014 meeting, there were a series of communications with Myanmar on how to take the issue forward. Myanmar while showing intent had however told India that it would not want to be in an embarrassing sitiuation while carrying out a joint operation. [Manipur ambush: A rare cross-border surgical strike by Special Forces]

On Monday however the deliberations that had taken place for nearly an year materialized. Myanmar gave its consent to launch the operation and this led to the special forces of the Indian army being flown in to the Sagaing division in Myanmar.

A sense of urgency:

India has conducted joint operations with Myanmar in the past as well. Two major operations were conducted in the years 1995 and 2006. While these two operations had targeted specific militant groups, this time around the issue was more serious.

The militant groups of North East had become stronger and had even formed an umbrella outfit under which all of them would operate. Moreover if one makes a comparison of the 1995 and 2006 operation to the one that took place yesterday, the militants had extremely sophisticated weapons this time around. [Manipur ambush: India-Myanmar launch offensive]

The militants had a different resolve this time around and were even striking at will. However they were able to get away due to easy escape routes along the Indo-Myanmar border. The Ministry for External Affairs signaled a sense of urgency in the operation and also indicated the cooperation this time around would be long term.

The rise of the NSCN-K:

India has been raisng concerns over the growth of the militant outfit NSCN-K which had led the attack at Manipur. The NSCN-K largely believed to be supported by the Chinese has over the years become a prominent outfit which has been providing training to groups such as the NFDB-S and also the ULFA.

The NSCN-K has been growing in numbers and has also managed to set up a formidable training camp in the dense forests of Myanmar bordering India. The growth of this group had to be stopped and in order for this to happen, the support from Myanmar was extremely crucial. [Manipur ambush probe: Wrong data base leads to embarrassing start]

While coordinated strikes are extremely important to stop such militant groups, India is also working with Myanmar on securing the border. India had signed an MoU with Myanmar last year on cooperation along the border. However the need to find a solution to ensure that militants do not cross over easily is also being worked out.

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