India-Myanmar joint operation destroys militant camps to protect Kaladan project

New Delhi: Senior Indian army officers have affirmed that more Indian troops were stationed along the India-Myanmar boundary between February 17 and March 2 but denied reports that a cross-border strike by Indian armed forces had been carried out along the lines of last month’s air force strike on Balakot in Pakistan.

The recent deployment, which has also been described as Surgical Strike 3.0, mainly involved Assam Rifles units being transferred south to the Myanmar border, occurred concurrently to a crackdown by the Myanmar army against rebels who were threatening and trying to extract money from Indian personnel working on the USD 484 million Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project in Myanmar being funded by India. The project intends to connect India and Myanmar by sea and land and is anticipated to be operational by 2020.

The officers affirmed that it was by no means a cross-border strike as was being said in some reports. They said India and Myanmar were in touch diplomatically ahead of the operation with the two armies holding several meetings to plan it.

‘We worked in coordination with Myanmar army’

“We worked in coordination with the Myanmar army and our goal was to stop these elements from moving into India,” said a second senior officer in the military establishment, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We don’t need to cross the Myanmar border because there is an understanding on both sides and the Myanmar army obliges with whatever we ask them for,” said a senior army officer closely monitoring the North-east.

The officials, however, maintained that Indian forces did not cross the border and only extended logistic support to Myanmar Army. During the raids, which lasted for over two weeks, all the camps and the makeshift arrangements of Arakan Army were completely destroyed, officials claimed.

While the Indian security establishment said the real motive of Arakan Army movement towards Indian side is unclear, it is possible that the presence of insurgents posed a serious security threat to the Kaladan project.