The intelligence agencies concerned keeping trail on the movement of Barua have got enough indications that he is cooling his heels in the wooded fastness of Kachin province of Myanmar. The province is known as a safe passage and sanctuary of north-east extremist groups with active support from the Kachin Independent Army (KIA), Arakan, Karen, Shan, and Chin rebels fighting for liberating zones against the military junta of Yangon. The agencies in course of their trail have also stumbled upon the fact that China is backing up north-east militants and Maoists.
Mizo National Front (MNF) hqrs, it is to be recalled, was based at Newlogoon close to the border of Mizoram. Besides Bangladesh and Bhutan, ULFA had also set-up camps in Kachin after the outfit signed Indo-Burma Revolutionary Front (IBRF) with NSCN (K) and UNLF in 1995. The entire troubled zone is best known as guerilla hinterland. Both the NSCN (K) and UNLF have strong presence in the Arakant region. It is the writ of the rebels and not the military junta that runs through the province and all the areas around.
The strategic location of Kachin and Shan provinces with passage to China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand provides the north-east militants easy access to arms shipped from international markets. It is an open secret that besides Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar, sea ports of Bangladesh, arms used by militants come from Mynmar. Assam Rifles has identified 30 border villages across Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram where arms are catched for gun-runners. BSF, on the other hand, listed India’s 663 km border with Myanmar as “corridor of terror”.
Logistic and material support has made Myanmar an ideal destination for ULFA. The lone top fugitive Paresh Barua in the present predicament can not have better option than to seek refuge with IBRF allies and the Myanmerese guerillas. Intillegence agencies have more information on ULFA’s Kachin safari. China has been one of the potential suppliers of arms. According to them, a strong syndicate code named Black House with its base in Yunan province of China controls shipments of Chinese arms and ammunitions in South Asia.
Reports quoting Jane’s intelligence review say that China now scores over Combodia and Thailand as the main supplier of weapons to north-east militants. It further reveals IBRF allies have close coordination with United Wa State Army (UWSA) with large force of soldiers, an obscure but dreaded Myanmar based insurgent group. The Army works as a link between Chinese arms suppiers and militant groups of India. Reports further add that Paresh Barua has not escaped from Bangladesh in the wake of the crackdown on ULFA leaders. He has long before been in Kachin for arms – shopping where he is holed up now.
According to another report, Barua along with Manipur based Peoples Liberation Army chairman Nengbom Bhorot went to Kumming in Yunan province and held two meetings with Lt. Gen. Guangkhai, the chief of Chinese military intelligence known as the second department of Chinese Peoples Liberation Army General staff officials. The meeting took place between February 13 and 17 this year.
Quite significantly, Maoists and naxalites have of late been seeking ideological resonance and tactical understanding with north-east insurgents. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram admitted while addressing the annual conference of Director Generals and Inspector Generals of Police in September in Delhi that Maoists are tying up in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam for arms from China through Myanmar. Information with the Union Home Ministry is that Maoists have improved on military wares and operational tactics. UWSA is again a major player in this arms deal.
Can not India mount diplomatic pressure on Myanmar like Bangladesh for crackdown on extremist leaders ? Observers say it is difficult to implement. Two important reasons are that military junta of Yangon have no control over Kachin and Shan provinces where the rebels are active. Secondly, Beijing has great influence over Myanmarese military rulers and the rebels too maintain better Chinese connections for their own interests.