North-eastern India has long been a hub of extremism where hundreds of groups of disenchanted youngsters are radicalized for various causes and take up arms. Hence, there is also a flourishing arms trade in the region. These arms are smuggled through international borders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and China. Coxâs Bazaar in Bangladesh is said to be one of the largest arms bazaar in the region. Trade in small arms, automatic rifles, bombs, grenades, bullets, landmines and the like has been going on for ages.
But recently a consignment was intercepted in Meghlaya that has immediately raised eyebrows. This consignment contained spare parts for anti-aircraft guns, something that the assorted groups in the region are not known to use. Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma expressed his surprise and concern while disclosing this in the assembly. Is the state and the region becoming a hub for smuggling in sophisticated arms to be deployed by terrorists elsewhere in India? Or are extremist and Maoist groups in the region upgrading themselves in the wake of cross-border strike which the Indian army made against them in Myanmar? Remember, the army used helicopters to drop commandos across the border. So are the extremists acquiring anti-aircraft guns to bring these helicopters down the next time there is such a strike?
This is a serious matter and needs to be investigated further. Anti-terrorism agencies need to find out who sent the consignment and which group asked for it. If such sophisticated weapons land into the hands of miscreants, army operations will be further handicapped. As of now, the army is constrained by hostile territory and guerilla tactics of these groups. They strike at convoys and kill jawans and destroy vehicles. If they start bringing down planes and helicopters too, it will be a big setback in the effort to bring normalcy to the troubled region.