On January 18, in a joint operation which was carried out with Manipur Police, the aegis of Assam Rifles recovered a massive stock of arms and ammunition including automatic rifles, from a village in Churachandpur district.
About the operation:
According to a statement issued by the Assam Rifles, an investigation was launched, based at Chinglangmei village that led to the recovery of the weapons.
According to the statement, the recovery included a 7.62 mm self-loading rifle, one 7.62 mm M-16 rifle, one 7.62 mm modified rifle, one hand-held ICOM radio set with charger, two 7.62 mm SLR magazine, one Chinese hand grenade and 15 bullets of different calibers.
Hereafter, the recovered arms and ammunition were handed over to Kumbi police.
Earlier, in 2021, in a joint operation a combined team of the Imphal East district police commandos unit and 16 Assam Rifles recovered arms and ammunition from the different areas of Andro Chingthak and the neighbouring area of Maringthel in Manipur’s Imphal East district.
CM Biren Singh took the matter to its official Twitter handle where he wrote, “After getting reports of frequent gun firing at night around Andro area, I have instructed the district police to take up necessary action. Today, a combined team of Manipur police and Assam Rifles conducted a search operation at Andro Chingthak and the neighbouring area of Maringthel.”
“During the search ops, the following items were recovered (i) 1 improvised AK Rifle with magazine (ii) 2 nos. of 9 mm Pistol with magazine both marked as ‘Made in Japan’(iii) 2 nos. of Wireless Set both marked as “BAOFENG’(iv) 15 nos. of AK rifle ammunition (v) 21 nos. of 9 mm ammunitions(vi) 18 nos. of detonator and (vii) 15 nos. of empty cases of assorted ammunition,” he further added.
Northeast smuggling hub of arms and ammunitions?
According to a report by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Arm smuggling network in Northeast India has seen drastic rise over the course of years.
Arms smuggling took a hit with the decline in insurgency after 2013-14, the DRI report said. “But as the routes and the network of carriers were already in place, a switch was made from arms to gold.”
However, the incessant demand for weapons in India proliferated over the years due to the low-intensity conflicts in Northeast India, Left-Wing extremism affected areas and Jammu and Kashmir. An unhindered inflow of small arms from different routes eventually reaches the insurgents, maoists, terrorists and other criminals. Illicit manufacture of local country made guns, stealing from government stocks, inadequate monitoring and surveillance etc, has further aggravated the situation. The Indian subcontinent is particularly vulnerable to this menace of contraband arms smuggling.
The arms smugglers are well aware of the difficult geographical terrain of the region. Also, they easily mix with the locals who unknowingly assist the smugglers in achieving their aim. However, the security officials posted along the border face the challenges posed by dense forests, hilly terrain and densely populated habitats of this area, limiting their surveillance capacity.
It is to be noted that amongst the Northeastern states, Mizoram has emerged as South Asia’s biggest smuggling hub for ecstasy drugs, gold and guns. Many of the Chin refugees, illegally settled in Mizoram have been caught for their involvement in various international arms smuggling networks, in close linkage with the UWSA.
Arms smuggling through Bangladesh is said to be facilitated by the dense forests of Chittagong hill tracts providing the smugglers safe haven and allowing them to sneak the weapons into India through the porous borders.
Further, the coastal border points between Bangladesh and Myanmar are also regarded as points for transit of contraband arms. These shipments land on coasts of South Bangladesh and Northwest Myanmar and then smuggled in smaller consignments into Northeast India.