Explosives Seized in Mizoram. / Assam Rifles
One of India’s premier investigating agencies is probing the seizure of a large quantity of explosives believed to be intended for a Myanmar-based resistance group fighting the military regime.
The explosives were seized in January close to the India/Myanmar border in Siaha District in India’s Mizoram State, after the Assam Rifles intercepted a vehicle with explosives packed in around 100 cardboard boxes.
Over 2,421 kilograms of explosives, as well as 1,000 detonators and 4,500 metres of detonating fuse, were recovered from the vehicle, along with 73,500 Indian Rupees and 935,500 Kyats.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is under the administrative control of India’s Home Ministry, subsequently seized incriminating documents and digital devices during searches at two locations in Mizoram, after the case was registered last month in India’s capital New Delhi.
During the course of the investigation, police arrested three people including a Myanmar national, according to the first information report registered by NIA. He had fled his home in Myanmar and had been camping in a border district in Mizoram.
The government is of the opinion that a scheduled offence under the 2008 NIA Act has been committed and “having regard to the gravity of the offence, its international linkages and ramifications on national security, it is required to be probed by the investigating agency.”
In a similar incident last year, the Assam Rifles recovered a large haul of ‘war-like stores’ being smuggled to Myanmar and apprehended two people. The items seized included 63 sacks of an explosives substance weighing a total of 1.3 tonnes, 3,000 special detonators, 925 electric detonators and 2,000 meters of fuse.
Officials were of the opinion that the explosives were intended to be smuggled from Mizoram to Myanmar for use against the Myanmar junta.
The operation was carried out by the Assam Rifles in the Farkawn road track junction area of Mizoram after a tip-off. The recovered items and apprehended persons were handed over to the Indian police.
Since last year’s coup, refugees from Myanmar’s Chin State have been fleeing to neighboring Mizoram State. The Myanmar military has launched brutal crackdowns on suspected strongholds of the resistance movement across Chin and elsewhere in the country.
Some 29,532 refugees are currently sheltering in Mizoram, according to the Mizoram government. Siaha District alone is sheltering 9,464 refugees, including women and children, while Champhai District has 7,810 refugees. The Mizoram government has begun the process of issuing them with identity cards.
While the central government had ordered that India’s borders be closed to refugees from Myanmar, the Mizoram government has welcomed them on the grounds of close ethnic ties with Chin people.
Rajeev Bhattacharyya is a senior journalist in Assam, India
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