Manipur rebels ‘leaving Chin state’

There has been an apparent decrease in the number of Manipur rebels sheltering in western Burma, according to a Chin news group which claims it may be a result of increased military cooperation between India and Burma.

The rebels have been sheltering across the border in Chin state for more than five years but are on the wane as joint army operations aimed at routing them appear to have been successful. India has also deployed Border Security Forces to tighten security along the porous frontier with Burma.

Htet Nyi, editor of the Khonumthaung news group, said also that there had been a disagreement between the rebels and the Burmese authorities over local heroin production, adding however that “we heard some of [the rebels] were sent deeper into Burma to areas like Sagaing division”.

“We obtained information that the rebels last month were being shipped off to Karen state to fight the Karen National Union.

“There is a wife of a Manipur rebel in Kale [in Sagaing division] and when asked, she said her husband was killed in a fight [in Karen state.] However, the rebels were wearing [Burmese army] badges instead of their own ones so it is not likely the KNU would know [who they are].”

Locals in Chin state’s Tonzan town said the rebels, with the help of Burmese authorities, were abusive to the local population. One man there said that the rebels “forced locals to work as porters when they relocate from one village to another.

“Now life is more convenient for the local population as there are fewer rebels who abuse them. They can now go hunting or pick flowers in the forest with no harassment.”

Indian press said in August last year that Maoist rebels, collaborating with Manipur group the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), are being trained at bases inside Burma.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his first term in office called the Maoist insurgents India’s greatest security threat – the rebels are believed to be active in a third of the country’s districts.

The northeastern states of India, many of which border Burma, form a fractious and trouble-prone region, with numerous ethnic separatist groups fighting for independence from India.

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