India’s security establishment has been abuzz this past week after some major media outlets carried news of coordinated operations by armies of India and Myanmar to flush out rebels of the Yung Aung faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), or NSCN-K (YA), and several Manipuri and Assamese groups, among others. Called Operation Sunshine-2, and held between mid-May and the second week of June, it followed up a brief first phase in end-February. Some media reported joint operations.

This was denied by the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s army. On 18 June, an official of Tatmadaw True News Information Team clarified that there were no joint operations. Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy that matters extended only to coordinated action by the armies of the two countries in their respective territories; not cross-border action of the sort attributed to the Indian army at least thrice since 2015 across the border from Ukhrul district in Manipur—and which took diplomatic outreach to smoothen.

India’s security forces have been anticipating this endgame for several years. It’s a mix of military action backed by understanding between India and Myanmar to flush out remaining rebels from north-eastern India who have camps in north-western Myanmar, from where they carry out operations and oversee matters of “donations"—both voluntary and extortive.

In particular, the squeeze is on the YA faction, the remnant of a group that bears the name of S.S. Khaplang, Yung Aung’s uncle. Khaplang died in 2017, and was succeeded by Khango Konyak, whom YA, as he is sometimes called, ousted in a coup last year. Konyak subsequently moved to India with his supporters and has joined peace negotiations alongside several Naga rebel groups. Both Konyak, during his brief tenure, and YA continued Khaplang’s practice of offering sanctuary and logistics support to groups, which found safe haven in north-west Myanmar, where the YA faction is based (and where Myanmar army has recently conducted operations).

These rebel groups include the independent faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom, a Bodo splinter group, and a half-dozen Manipuri rebel groups under the umbrella of CorCom, or Coordination Committee. Since early 2015, when Khaplang broke away from a ceasefire with the government of India, NSCN-K has occasionally conducted joint operations with elements of CorCom.

Besides hitting back with combat operations, India’s security apparatus has also put the squeeze in other ways. In end-October 2017, a team from National Investigation Agency (NIA) seized nearly 28 lakh in Dimapur from Shelly, wife of a key general in NSCN-K, the flamboyant Niki Sumi, mastermind of several attacks against Indian troops (and who remains a warlord with the disarrayed YA faction for the time). NIA also shut down a pipeline that diverted Nagaland government funds to the Khaplang faction.

Sunshine-2 may lead to Sunshine-3. On the Indian side at least, there appears to be no climbdown from preparedness that kicked in during Sunshine-2. On 29 May, for instance, the ranking bureaucrat of Tobu sub-division in Mon district in Nagaland released an advisory, on account of the “prevailing law and order situation". So that they wouldn’t be mistaken as hostile by Indian forces, the advisory requested citizens: “1) Not to venture out for hunting 2) Not to carry any kind of weapons 3) Avoid movement during the night 4) Not to wear camouflage clothes 5) To carry proper identity card like the Aadhaar, Epic [Electoral Photo ID Card], job card, etc..."

The same day I received news from sources in Nagaland of several NSCN K (YA) being in the “general vicinity" of Monyakshu and Changlangshu villages—located along a ridge a few kilometres west of the border with Myanmar—and Yei, a couple of ridges away to the northwest. Indian forces had employed unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs to detect rebels. It was a microcosm of what will continue to play out in an attempt to roll up rebel networks—and also offer a warning to those in ceasefire. The thing is, not all groups, even those in ceasefire, are defanged. This story is far from ended.

This column focuses on conflict situations and the convergence of businesses and human rights and runs on Thursdays.