There is increasing evidence of very active and growing collaboration between the CPI (Maoist) and militant groups of northeast India, an intelligence agency official told HT.
"Since 2009, insurgents from India's northeast have been visiting Jharkhand and imparting training to Maoist cadres who are very keen on acquiring training on IEDs and battle tactics like how to conduct an ambush. The number of such exchanges is growing," the source said alluding to the involvement of Manipuri and Naga groups.
"At the same time, Maoists from central India have also been spreading their influence among the tea-garden communities of Assam. Many youth from the tea gardens have been recruited. The July 10 bomb blast in a train in Assam is also a handiwork of the Adivasi People's Army (APA) which has very strong linkages with Maoists," the source added.
The Eastern Region Bureau of the Maoists has been tasked to forge alliances and set up a network in the Northeast.
The Maoists are also known to be very keen to set a strong base in the Taga area of Myanmar. In fact, recent reports indicate the presence of a small group of Maoists in Taga. This restive area, in northwest Myanmar, is often referred to as "United Area" because of the strong presence of almost all the insurgent groups of India's northeast.
All the cadres of the various groups are housed in separate camps. The writ of the NSCN's Khaplang faction reigns supreme.
A foothold in areas like Taga will provide the Maoists with an assured source of arms supply. All sorts of sophisticated rifles, grenade launchers, explosive devices, and other contraband items are widely available at cheap rates here.
"The advantage of a presence in northwest Myanmar is that there is no semblance of state authority here. Resultantly, this area has become a hotbed of gun-running and trade in narcotics. The cheap weapons are either Chinese army discards or good quality imitations of the original," the official added.
Intelligence reports say the insurgent groups in the Taga area have stepped up efforts to combine forces and put up a united front. "Just two weeks ago, seven Manipuri outfits have met and decided to unite," the official said.
The Northeast groups' linkages with the Maoists go back to October, 2008, when a joint declaration to "fight the Indian state together" was signed by the Maoists and Revolutionary People's Front (RPF), the political arm of the 800-1000 cadre strong People's Liberation Army (PLA)--one of the oldest insurgent groups in Manipur. Formed in 1976, the avowedly extreme-Left leaning PLA's first batch of recruits were trained in China.
"Maoists have abundant manpower but limited weaponry, whereas, NE militant groups have all the range of weapons but limited cadres. A tacit collaboration to cancel out each other's limitations is very much possible," the official said.