Friday, September 25, 2009

Is IBRF on the path of revival?

SILCHAR, Aug 25: When various militant outfits across the Northeast have shown their inclination to draw curtain on jungle warfare and return to the mainstream of society, there are disturbing developments also, as monitored by intelligence agencies, that attempts are on to revive the Indo-Burma Revolutionary Front (IBRF).

The IBRF was formed by the ULFA, NSCN (K) and the UNLF on May 22, 1990 in the Kachin hinterland of Myanmar, erstwhile Burma. The declaration, a copy of which is with The Sentinel, signed jointly by NSCN-K chairman SS Khaplang, ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and UNLF general secretary Sana Yaima vowed to build up a united struggle for the independence of Indo-Burma region dominated by ethnic tribes. It targeted New Delhi as their sworn enemy from whose clutch the “oppressed” people of the region “have to be liberated”.

The revival of the Front is being mooted in view of the disturbed bases and camps of the ULFA, 27 in number, spread over the 10 districts of Moulvibazar, Bandarban, Mymensingh, Sherpur, Sylhet, Kurigram, Tangrail, Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati and Sunamganj. These camps have come under the close surveillance of Bangladesh Government under diplomatic pressure from India. According to inputs from across the border, these training and transit camps are maintaining low profile.

There are no confirmed reports that the camps have been dismantled by the Bangladesh security forces. Top ULFA leaders cooling their heels so long find it no more safe to flex their muscles on Bangladesh soil. They are reported to have sought refuge in other countries. Their efforts to regroup in Bhutan too have been aborted by the Indo-Bhutan security forces.

As best option, the ULFA has turned to the NSCN-K, its old ally. The Khaplang faction has no camp in Bangladesh. Its operational headquarters and training camps are located in Kachin and Shan provinces of Myanmar bordering Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram with easy access to Yunan region of China. These are known as guerilla hinterland or route where in the mid-80’s the ULFA had joined hands with the NSCN for training and supply of arms and ammunition. After operations by the Indian security forces assisted by that of Junta Government of Myanmar in which more than 150 Northeast militants belonging to the PLA, UNLF and the ULFA were killed in the early 1990’s, the ULFA found it safe to move to Bangladesh to reinforce its existing presence. The UNLF, which has only two camps at Bhanugach and Srimangal in Bangladesh, too has wound them up and moved to Myanmar.

Significantly, the IBRF is being reactivated with logistic and military support of Chin and Kachin extremists. Arms and ammunition are shipped through clandestine routes of northern Thailand and China. According to intelligence reports, the PLA has also of late become an ally. ULFA ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Barua, NSCN leader S S Khaplang and UNLF general secretary Sana Yaima are, according to a report, working for revival of the IBRF. THE SENTINEL

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