Security agencies in India have expressed concern over the Chinese weapons being provided to the militant groups in Myanmar after a huge cache of Chinese weapons was recovered near the Myanmar-Thailand border which was destined to Arakan Army (AA).
In a joint operation in June, Myanmar and Thailand police caught a large consignment of Chinese weapons, which led to the arrest of a total of 6 people.
All arrests revealed that the Chinese weapons were transported to the Arakan Army operating in Rakhine state adjoining Bangladesh.
AK 47 assault rifles, anti-tank mines, grenades, and machine guns were among the seized items from a house in Mae Sot District on the Thai side.
“They are not the weapons currently used by the Arakan Army. The weapons manufactured by the Wa (United Wa State Army) and the KIA (Kachin Independence Army ) are not up to much. They can’t fire on automatic. The seized weapons are original and Chinese made,” a source said.
Last year, Indian and Myanmar Armies had carried out a joint coordinated operation in their respective borders against Arakan Army and other rebel groups under the code name ‘Operation Sunrise’, to secure the Kaladan Project – considered as India’s gateway to Southeast Asia.
The Arakan Army has set up several camps in areas across Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district, posing a threat to the Kaladan Project.
Deputy spokesman of Thailand Police Col Kissana Phattanacharoen said it is believed the seized weapons were intended to create havoc and the discovery comes amid intelligence reports about suspicious activities being planned by a certain group of people.
In November 2019, a huge cache of Chinese weapons was seized in Shan state by the Burmese Army including surface to air missiles.
Among the weapons seized were 39 M-22 assault rifles, 29 medium machine guns, 69 M-21 assault rifles, nine M-16 assault rifles, 21-RPG, and one FN-6 man-portable air defense system, which is a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile.
“There is a well-planned conspiracy to destabilize the Myanmar border adjoining to Bangladesh and India. Through Kaladan Project, India will be able to reach its strong presence in Myanmar which will help to counter Chinese presence. This could be a reason that Chinese weapons are transported to rebels groups like AA,” said an officer aware of these developments.
India entered into a framework agreement with Myanmar in April 2008, to facilitate the implementation of the project. On completion, the project will help connect Mizoram with the Sittwe Port in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. On the Indian side, work is on to extend the Aizawl-Saiha National Highway by 90 km to the international border at Zorinpui.
In another incident in 2010 when northeast militant Anthony Shimray, who had returned from Nepal, was apprehended by Indian security agencies, he disclosed that he was tasked to send a large consignment of AK 47s, M16 rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers among other arms and ammunition from China to India.
These weapons were to be sent from China’s Beihei through an agent from Bangkok to Bangladesh’s Cax Bazaar. From there, the weapons were to be made available to militant groups of northeast.