Army para commandos may be deployed to fight northeast rebels

Brand-new DELHI: Stung by the deadliest attack on Army soldiers under its watch, the Narendra Modi government on Thursday asked the Army to go all out versus NSCN (K) and other militant groups responsible for recent escalation of violence in the North-East.

READ ALSO: Deadliest attack on Army in 33 yrs, 20 jawans die

“A decision has actually been taken to do to the groups responsible for today’s (Thursday) carnage what was done to NDFB,” said a functionary familiar with the consultations in the aftermath of the deadly ambush. He said the Centre’s decision was to “smash” the groups that have unleashed violence in the past few weeks, especially since the ceasefire with NSCN (K) ended in March.

Minutes after the attack, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag and other senior officials met to discuss the government’s response.
Thursday’s attack was the worst on security forces under the NDA regime, which rode to power with a tough posture on security matters.

The official said the Centre would adopt an aggressive strategy, like the one it had adopted versus NDFB (National Democratic Front of Bodoland) over the past several months. Security forces have found significant victory in their operation versus NDFB militants, several of who have been neutralized in recent months.

READ ALSO: Ulfa owns Manipur ambush that killed 20 jawans

Sources said army has actually been told to carry out a similar, targeted and cohesive operation to end the menace.

If the operations versus NDFB are to go by, the Army could bring in its para commandos to carry out surgical strikes on the insurgent groups.

The well-planned and executed ambush on the convoy of 6 Dogra Regiment, with IEDs, landmines, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, led to the largest-ever loss of soldiers in a single incident in recent memory in the northeast’s long bout with insurgency over the decades.

Army and intelligence agencies suspect that in all probability, the operation was carried out by Manipur rebel outfit Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), a Meitei rebel organization, at the instance of NSCN(K).

Comparisons were, in fact, being drawn with a similar ambush dating back to February 1982 when 20 jawans of 21 Sikh and one civilian were killed at Namthilok between Imphal and Ukhrul, which led to reaction and counter-reaction fuelling militancy for years.

NSCN (K) pulled out of its ceasefire agreement with Brand-new Delhi, which had been in existence for past 14 years, in March. Since then it has actually been building alliances with other militant groups, and shifted most of its base to Myanmar. Violence in the North-East has actually dramatically shot up since the ceasefire ended.

Expressing deep anguish at the attack, the home minister said after the high-level meeting, “We will not allow the sacrifices of our soldiers to go waste.”

Describing its “extremely unfortunate”, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the government has actually taken the matter very seriously. “Some people want to disrupt the peace process. I extend my condolences to the families of martyred soldiers,” he said.

Sources said the Army and Assam Rifles have taken steps to close the Indo-Myanmar border to stop the militants from fleeing to the neighbouring country.

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