The Myanmar government on Friday (May 15) handed over 22 insurgents to India, for the first time acting on New Delhi’s request to extradite members of northeast-based militant groups operating from the neighbouring country.
An Indian Air Force plane carrying the leaders of six different outfits of Manipur and Assam touched down at Imphal airport around 3 pm, after which they were immediately taken to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences for COVID-19 test.
Ten ultras of two Assam-based outfits were later flown to Guwahati, while 12 others of four rebel groups of Manipur have been quarantined in the state, a senior official of Manipur police said.
Those extradited are middle-rung leaders and cadre of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup (KYKL), the Peoples’ Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak-Progressive (PREPAK-PRO) and the Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA-Manipur) of Manipur; and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Saoraigwra (NDFB-S) and the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) of Assam.
The only prominent leaders in the group are Rajen Daimary, a self-styled home secretary of the NDFB(S), Sansuma Basumatary, a “captain” of the NDFB(S), Sanatomba Ningthoujam, a “captain” of the UNLF, and Pashuram Laishram, a “lieutenant” of the PREPAK- PRO.
The 22 insurgents were caught by the Myanmar army from its Sagaing region during an operation based on intelligence inputs provided by the Indian security forces in February-March last year, said army sources at the 3 Corps based at Rangapahar near Dimapur in Nagaland.
The deportation is being seen as part of the growing military cooperation between the two countries. Myanmar is particularly keen in getting military cooperation from India in its fight against the Arakan Army (AA) in its insurgency-ravaged Rakhine and Chin states.
Earlier this year, Myanmar with the help of Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga secured the release of ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) parliamentarian U. Whei Tin from the captivity of the AA.
Almost all militant groups of the northeast have their bases in Myanmar and top guns like United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I) chief Paresh Barua, PLA-Manipur’s chairman Bharat Chaoren and military chief Praveen Sharma continue to operate from their safe haven in the neighbouring country.
Of late, there has been an unconfirmed report that around 50 cadre of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Issac-Muivah), led by its former commander-in-chief Pungthing Shimrang, crossed over to Myanmar as peace talks between the Centre and the outfit continue to be dragged for over two decades.