External Affairs

Myanmar Op Wasn’t the First Cross-Border Attack

New Delhi: The surgical operation by the Indian Army inside Myanmar territory on Tuesday is not the first time it conducted a cross-border strike.

Security analysts said that in the past, on some occasions, the Army has crossed the borders of neighbouring countries in the Northeast to target militant groups operating from foreign soil.

Sources recalled that Operation All Clear was launched in South Bhutan in December 2003 to eliminate militant groups who had taken refuge there. About two dozen militant camps of ULFA, NDFB and KLO were targeted in the operation.

In January 2006, India and Myanmar conducted joint operations to flush out militants belonging to the NSCN (Khaplang) group. Sources said that during the AGP rule in Assam, the Army had conducted a precise, intelligence-based operation, going a few kilometres inside Bangladeshi territory to target militant groups. However, the short and swift operation on the eve of Republic Day was kept under wraps and never publicly acknowledged.

Tuesday’s operation by special forces of the Army and elite units of the Air Force was the first where India conducted a cross-border retaliation very quickly after militants had ambushed an Indian Army convoy in Manipur, killing 18 soldiers.

Will such an operation set an example for similar operations across other borders when it comes to tackling terrorism? Former Army Chief General VP Malik said such a thing won’t happen.

“The counter-insurgency doctrine is much broader and gives these kinds of permissions. You have to inform the MEA and take permission from the PMO when you are crossing the border. Here, the circumstances suited us, so the Indian Army took that action,” General Malik said.