NIA probes smuggling of arms to Myanmar outfit
The counter-terrorism probe agency is “looking at cross-border linkages” and also probing the role of northeast-based Indian insurgents in facilitating such smuggling, officials familiar with the matter said.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has launched a probe into alleged smuggling of arms and explosives to People’s Defense Force (PDF), an arm of Myanmar’s exiled National Unity Government (NUG), according to officials familiar with the matter.
The counter-terrorism probe agency is “looking at cross-border linkages” and also probing the role of northeast-based Indian insurgents in facilitating such smuggling, they said.
The development came months after a team of Assam Rifles intercepted two mini-trucks in Kulikawn police station area in Aizawl and recovered around 120 boxes of gelatin sticks (200 sticks in each box), four boxes of safety fuses having range of 2,000 metres, four boxes each of 25kg of gunpowder, eight unlicensed non-prohibited bore (NPB) arms, three 12-gauge Stallion shotguns and 20 boxes of Czech-made .177 pellets.
Four persons, Lalbiaktluanga, Zoremsanga, Laldinpuia and Lalruattluanga, all residents of Aizawl, were detained for questioning.
After an investigation by local police revealed in July that the consignment was meant for the PDF, the Union home ministry directed the NIA to take over the probe to ascertain “cross border links” and its repercussions on “national security”, one of the officials cited above said on condition of anonymity.
“Mizoram shares a 510km long border with Myanmar and often we have seen that Indian insurgent groups have used Myanmar’s territory to set-up bases and carry out attacks in India. But there are clear directions from the government that Indian soil shouldn’t be allowed to be used for arms’ smuggling by groups fighting Myanmar’s military government. So, we will look at all the links through which gelatin sticks and explosives are being sent to Myanmar,” the officer added.
Another officer, also on condition of anonymity, said “pilferage from gelatin sticks’ stocks meant for government infrastructure projects is thoroughly being checked”. Its purported sale by northeast-based insurgent groups is also under scanner, the officer added.
The NIA had raided five locations in Aizawl, Champai and Kolasib districts of Mizoram in June, in connection with another case of recovery of 2,421.12 kg of explosives, including 1,000 detonators, 4,500 metres of detonating fuse and Indian and Myanmarese currency from a vehicle in Zawnling area under Tipa Police Station.
“This consignment was meant for a Myanmar-based outfit Chin National Front (CNF) who are in the process of accumulating arms and ammunition for resisting the Government of Myanmar,” the NIA said in a statement on June 24.
Myanmar’s military took power in a coup on February 1 last year after complaining of fraud in a November 2020 general election won by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.
Mizoram shares the border with Myanmar at Chin state, and people of common ethnicities live on both sides of the border. Since March 2021, thousands of refugees from the Chin state have crossed over the border into Mizoram.