Seizure of arms made in Myanmar: NIA to probe links between Maoists, NE

Rahul Tripathi
The three were questioned by NIA officials about the main arms supplier.

Suspecting a larger conspiracy in the recent seizure of Myanmar-made assault rifles and grenades from a remote location in Bihar, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has involved the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe links between Maoist groups and militant outfits in the Northeast, particularly from Nagaland, which are active in Myanmar, officials said.

On February 7, Bihar Police had seized under barrel grenade launchers (UBGL) and a large number of AK-47 assault rifles in Purnia, said officials. According to MHA officials, the probe has revealed so far that arms and ammunition were smuggled from across the Myanmar border with the help of "Naga underground groups" and these were "meant to be supplied to Maoists across the country".

"Maoists have tried to seek help from Northeast militants groups earlier as well, particularly due to crackdown by security forces. They are looking for safe havens in the Northeast and other parts of the country," an MHA official said.

Bihar Police had last month arrested three persons, identified as V R Kahornagam and Clearson Kavo from Manipur’s Ukhrul and Suraj Prasad from UP’s Gorakhpur. The three were questioned by NIA officials about the main arms supplier. They were also shown photographs of Maoist commanders and top leadership active in Bihar and Jharkhand. A man identified as Mukesh Singh from Patna in Bihar is suspected to be the key link between arms suppliers and Maoists groups, sources said. Singh is reportedly on the run.

Arms and ammunition were found hidden in an SUV seized on February 7. The two Ukhrul-based arms smugglers, according to investigators, have direct links with a Northeastern insurgent group and have been involved in an arms smuggling racket in the Northeast.

According to MHA, the arrested suppliers have been booked under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and the case will be probed by the NIA due to its inter-state ramifications. The NIA team is expected to visit the Northeast to probe the smuggling route in Ukhrul near the India-Myanmar border, officials said.