IS the Ministry of Defence (mod), so used to blaming the unrest in the Northeast on the foreign hand, itself contributing to the strife? Otherwise, why did the then defence secretary, Ajit Kumar, send an order to the three service chiefs on July 27, 1998, specifically asking them not to take action against illegal gun-running operations in the Andamans? That too when there are intelligence reports that arms dealers have stepped up their supply to insurgent groups, including the ulfa and the nscn in the Northeast; and to Burmese rebels fighting the military regime in Yangon. Besides destabilising an already volatile region, the government circular has totally frustrated the Indian security forces fighting insurgency.
The controversial order is, in effect, asking the defence forces to ignore whatever tip-off it receives about the movement of illegal arms consignments, which includes sophisticated AK series rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, night vision fitted rifles and hand grenades. Kumar wrote the letter apparently under the instructions of defence minister George Fernandes, whose sympathy for the pro-democracy movement in Burma is no secret. The army is upset over the fact that in his – and RAW’S – zeal to support the Burmese rebels, Fernandes is ignoring the dangers Indian army troops and civilians in the Northeast are being exposed to.