NEW DELHI: A day after news broke that it had entered Myanmar and raided Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland(K) camps there, the Indian Army has denied any such operation. This despite media reports quoting “top government sources” and the NSCN(K) that such an encounter did take place, and soldiers crossed the border into the Myanmar jungles to lay siege to a village housing the camp.

NSCN(Khaplang) maintained that six soldiers were killed while it did not incur any casualties. Government “sources” confirmed the raid to sections of the media, but no casualties on either side

Assam Rifles and the Army rejected reports of this operation altogether with a statement maintaining that while the soldiers posted along the India-Myanmar border did hear firing, they were not involved in any such incident. In another media report an unidentified Army source was quoted as confirming the raid.

“The alleged offensive on NSCN (K) Camp between Chenmoho village in Mon distt. and Thorloi village in Myanmar on 19 Aug 2016 was not launched by Para Commandos or any other troops of the Indian Army. Firing across the border in Chenmoho village of Mon distt. was heard by the troops deployed in the region. The troops moved closer to border areas but could not ascertain any concrete details about the gun battle across the border,” the Army statement said.

The Army further maintained that the incident was likely to be a factional fight between two groups, ““Fire fight is most likely an inter-factional conflict which was claimed against the Indian Army commandos as a propaganda to gain popularity and make headlines by the NSCN(K).”

NSCN-K Ministry of Information & Publicity (MIP), in a press statement asserted, “Naga army cadres gunned down 5-6 Indian army commandos” in heavy exchange of fire, that took place on Friday (August 19) from 3.30 a.m. to 6 a.m. As per reports, the MIP claimed that its cadres manning the “forward security post thwarted the attack by the 12 Para commandos of the Indian Army after they intruded into Naga Myanmar area. The commandos tried to launch an attack after walking one and half hour into Naga Myanmar area, after crossing Thorloi the first border village well inside Naga Myanmar.” MIP further said the “Naga Army” first spotted the soldiers, opened fire, and killed five or six of them.

Unidentified government sources, significantly, have confirmed the incident to sections of the Indian media. The Indian Express, for instance, has written that according to top government sources the Army did cross into Myanmar, made fire contact with the NSCN(K) and was in the territory for several hours. These sources have also been quoted by the newspaper to maintain that the raid was part of such operations by the Indian military against NSCN(K), and the operations have been going on and will continue.

This comes on the eve of Minister of External Affair Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Myanmar.

It now remains for the Myanmar government to break its silence on this issue. A similar raid had been carried out by the Indian Army on NSCN(K) camps in Myanmar in June last year. The Army operation where no real success in smashing the insurgent group was reported caused considerable embarrassment to the Myanmar government after details of it went public, Myanmar had to formally take up the issue with New Delhi and underline that it was a sovereign nation. Whether, or not, it had been informed by India prior to the military intervention, is still not clear, but after a few statements a lid was put on the incident by both governments.

The offensive against NSCN-K is seen by experts as part of the government ‘strategy’ on Nagaland, where New Delhi is in talks with the NSCN(Isak-Muivah) group and both sides actually met to sign a Naga accord in August last year, details of which have still not been made public. It was later re-projected as a framework document, and despite claims by the government that this would be finalised into a peace accord very soon, a year has passed with no movement forward. NSCN-K is completely opposed to any such accord, creating pressure within Nagaland where it continues to have support.