Chinese small arms seem to be facing competition from their Israeli counterparts on rebel turf in the Northeast.
Raids on rebel dens by the army’s Assam-based Red Horns Division have since June yielded Uzi submachine guns besides militant staples – Chinese versions of AK-47 and AK-56 assault rifles. One of the Uzis was retrieved from a remote village, Rongpisso, in central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district where militancy has ebbed.
“We have nothing to suggest Israeli arms dealers are involved in some kind of small arms race in the Northeast. But the recovery of Uzis has added a new dimension to militancy in this region,” said a colonel, who refused to be named.
Although army officials said the inflow of small arms had been checked considerably, the recovery was 6%-13% less compared to previous years.
“Availability of weapons is still high,” said Maj Gen NS Ghei, chief of Red Horns Division.
Of more concern, Assam police officials said, is the availability of superior Israeli weapons. “The percentage of Uzis might be very low vis-à-vis the AKs, but myriad militant groups are holding Israeli arms smuggled in via Myanmar and Bangladesh,” said a senior police officer.
Militant groups such as Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) have bank accounts in Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries to fund fancier and expensive Israeli weapons, the officer added. Leaders of this tribal outfit are facing charges in a hill council scam where R1,000 crore was allegedly diverted to their coffers from development funds.
China has long been suspected of arming rebels in the Northeast. The ministry of home affairs had admitted the Chinese connection with groups such as the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and United Liberation Front of Asom. Earlier this year, NSCN (I-M) leader Anthony Shimray disclosed to the National Investigation Agency how China was fuelling insurgency in the Northeast.