Chinese gunrunner and a Myanmar businessman key players in ambush

Indian army soldiers in Manipur, northeast India. Photo: EPA

Two shadowy operators — a Chinese gunrunner and a Myanmar businessman — have emerged as key players in the deadliest attack on an Army convoy in Manipur last week according to an article in the New Indian Express on 9 June. 

Just a day before the ambush on 6Dogra Regiment last week, chatter from Myanmar, intercepted by Central intelligence agencies, had hinted at the ultras’ plan to carry out a terror strike.

It was analysed and shared with all agencies, including the Army. Prior to this June 3 intelligence report, various intercepts were analysed by the agencies, which revealed that the side-lined National Socialist Council of Nagaland, Khaplang (NSCN-K) faction was trying to get assistance from Chinese and Myanmar actors to re-activate its camps at Suruhoto in Zunheboto and Mon in Myanmar.

One of the intercepted conversations, intelligence officials said, allegedly featured a retired Colonel of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Muk Yan Pau Huang, who is responsible for providing arms and ammunition to ultras and is learnt to be working closely with Tin Ying, a Myanmar businessman who recently set up an arms factory at the China-Myanmar border. Ying, intelligence officials said, is a former member of the Burmese Communist Party and Huang is one of his closest aides. Huang is said to be overseeing the day-to-day activities of Ying’s factory. “Ying and Huang persuaded S SKhaplang, who is said to be seriously ill, to walk out of the ceasefire. Intercepts indicated that Khaplang was assured of Chinese support if he decides against the ceasefire and continues militant activity in the Northeast,” intelligence officials said.

In one of the intercepts, two serving Chinese PLA officials were also netted. Officials said one of the reasons for frequent communication between them could be the fact that Khaplang’s militant outfit has more Myanmar cadres than Nagas and the numbers are dwindling.

“Former Chinese PLA Colonel, Huang is learnt to have played a major role by funding several splinter groups now based in Myanmar and helping Khaplang clinch a ceasefire with the Myanmar government. Khaplang, according to a recent report, is seriously ill and to ensure his hold on the outfit recently expelled two senior ultra cadre, Wangtin Naga and V Tikhak,” officials added.

In May, a report had suggested that NSCN-K had launched mobile battalions in the border areas and subsequently a tip-off had resulted in a security operation by Assam Rifles in old Sallang in Changlang district, in which forces had destroyed an NSCN-K camp. “The arms recovered on May 19 were being supplied by the Chinese. The documents linked the outfit to two other bases in Sagaing Division and Kachin State in Myanmar.

While forging ties with the Chinese, informers claimed that ULFA military wing chief Paresh Barua also played a role in convincing Khaplang,” officials said.

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