Five Chakma youths including two from Bangladesh have been apprehended with huge quantity of arms and ammunition in the Indian state of Mizoram. A senior official of Border Security Force (BSF) in Agartala said the arrests were made on Thursday.
Their detention reinforces the assertions that Mizoram is being used as a corridor by gun runners, and insurgents of northeast India and Bangladesh for transporting arms and ammunition and drugs from Myanmar and Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) inside Indian territory.
“Aizawl frontier BSF along with Mizoram police during search of a vehicle on the airport road apprehend five Chakma youths,” said BS Rawat, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of BSF.
He said five M-16 rifles, 5100 round of live cartridges of M-16 and AKs, 10 cell phones and Indian rupees 60,000 and documents were found on them.
“All the youths have been arrested and at present interrogation is going on about their identity, from where they procured the arms and ammunition and about their intentions.”
The Bangladesh arrestees have been identified as Jius Chakma, 28, and Sumitro Chakma, 48, both residents of Rangamati.
Jius identified himself as an active member of Parbartya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samati (PCJSS) – a forum fighting for the rights of the indigenous people in CHT region of Bangladesh.
The other three are Indian nationals identified as Purnajoy Chakma, 45, Dipankar Chakma, 33, and Bijoy Chakma, 31, all residents of Rajivnagar of Mamit district in Mizoram.
Chakma youths had also been arrested earlier in Mizoram along with arms.
On Mar 7-8, 2013, the biggest arms haul in Mizoram thus far and one of the biggest in the northeast India in recent years took place.
Then, the Mizoram Police and Assam Rifles seized 31 AK-47 assault rifles, one Singapore-made Light Machine Gun (LMG), one US-made Browning automatic rifle, 809 rounds of ammunition, and 32 magazines from a farmhouse near the Lengpui Airport, on the outskirts of state capital Aizawl.
On Mar 7, police seized 23 AK-47 rifles, one LMG and one Browning rifle and also arrested three Bangladeshi Chakma people in connection with the seizure.
Mizoram Police’s Superintendent of Police (SP) at Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Joseph Lalchhuana disclosed that they further acted on information derived from the interrogation of the three Bangladeshi Chakma men and recovered eight AK-47 assault rifles and 809 rounds of ammunition on Mar 8 at a location near the spot of the first seizure.
According to police, cases under the Arms Act, Foreigners Act and the Indian Passport Act were registered against the arrestees at Sairang Police Station, where the arms were seized. The arrestees were identified as Robi Chakma, Soboz Chakma and Moni Tripura.
Three days later, on Mar 12, 2013, the Mizoram Police disclosed that it had proof that the sophisticated arms seized were to be delivered to the PCJSS.
Police added that the three Chakma tribals arrested from the farmhouse belonged to the PCJSS of the erstwhile Shanti Bahini and the arms were smuggled in from Myanmar and were to be delivered to the PCJSS in Bangladesh.
The person who smuggled the arms into India through the porous Mizoram-Myanmar border had reportedly returned to Myanmar and was hiding there.
Officials believe the arms haul would deliver a severe blow to the capacity-building efforts of militant outfits operating in and from the region.
Outside Mizoram, on Mar 8, 2013, Security Forces (SFs) recovered explosives with the arrest of Gin Zamuan Simte of the Churachandpur District of Manipur.
Altogether, 450 detonators, 165 Gelatin sticks, 50 metres of safety fuse and two 12-bore guns were recovered from Simte’s possession.
Interrogation brought to light the fact that the explosive materials had been purchased from civilian construction organisations in Mizoram and were being smuggled into Manipur and Myanmar, where they would be distributed among militant groups.
Despite an uninterrupted peace in Mizoram since 1986, the state is often used as a conduit for illegal activities by criminals and militants alike.
At an internal security Conference of Chief Ministers in New Delhi on April 16, 2012, Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla observed that his state shared ‘porous’ international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, and remained prone to a host of illegal activities, such as smuggling of weapons, narcotics and fake Indian currency notes.
Mizoram shares 722 kilometre-long porous international borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar and free movement regime is allowed along the 404-kilometre Indo-Myanmar border.
This 404-kilometre Indo-Myanmar unfenced border is characterised by inhospitable terrain covered with dense canopy. Hence, the Assam Rifles cannot effectively dominate the Indo-Myanmar border.
Mizoram also shares 284-kilometre border with three adjoining militancy-affected Indian states.