- The insurgency is the bane of any civilized society needs no further emphasis or elaboration is akin to stating the obvious. The countrymen would be aware how decades of fighting insurgency in the northeast areas have not only singed the region considerably but also has rendered the efforts of security forces that much more challenging. Of late, there was a gradual reduction witnessed in insurgency-related attacks on the security forces rendering the situation under control. However, the recent ambush on an Assam Rifles convoy by Manipur insurgents in Churachandpur district killing five soldiers including a commanding officer, his wife, and their six-year-old son breaches the fragile calm prevailing in the border state.
- The attack is similar to what happened in the 2015 ambush on the Dogra Regiment in the neighboring Chandel district in which 18 army personnel were killed. People closely following the occurrences in the Northeast would agree that the Manipur insurgency has lost much steam from a decade or so ago. However, there is no denying that the state remains troubled by insurgent groups operating from Myanmar’s Chin state and staying out of peace talks while propping up a parallel economy run through extortion and narcotics.
- As reports suggest, the AR CO Col Viplav Tripathi was effectively curbing the narcotics trade, which possibly prompted the hit resulting in the carnage. As is known, the changed political situation in Myanmar where the military junta, which counts China as its main sponsor while not averse to cutting deals with India, is fighting neighboring Chin state rebels thereby forcing Manipur insurgents to camp closer to border areas. In such a scenario, more firefights could be in the offing for sure. Note that the Chinese link is particularly troubling. As reports point out unambiguously, illegal Chinese weapons are reportedly flowing to insurgent groups unabated.
- The recent recalibration of two army divisions away from counterinsurgency towards operational roles in border areas with China and Myanmar could also be stoking attempts to reenergize the flagging Northeast insurgencies. The Dragon Nation is causing India to open up multiple fronts to stretch its limited military and security resources is also showing signs of strain. The Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh continues to remain as fluid as it was since last May. An overstretched Indian army bogged down in battling insurgencies definitely benefits its rivals, including Beijing-supported insurgent groups.
- Moreover, Manipur’s diverse ethnic mix comprising social groups with separate and overlapping geographical areas of influence alongside many insurgent groups vying in their name for armed superiority has complicated peace efforts. Thus, the twin challenges of talking peace while showing no quarter for illegal activities keep testing the country’s security establishment to the hilt. Nonetheless, a breakthrough here will greatly help India better focus its resources on the LAC fight as well. Till then, our security personnel – both military and paramilitary – will continue to be guarded and thwart any attempts at further disturbing the peace and tranquility.