Involvement of foreign agencies cannot be ruled out: Ex-army chief M M Naravane on Manipur violence

New Delhi:¬†Former army chief general M M Naravane Friday said the involvement of foreign agencies in the Manipur violence “cannot be ruled out”, as he flagged the “Chinese aid to various insurgent groups”.

General (retd) Naravane said instability in border states is bad for the country’s overall national security.

He was responding to questions on the protracted violence in Manipur while interacting with journalists at the India International Centre on the topic ‘National Security Perspective’.

“I am sure that those who are in the chair and responsible for taking whatever action is due to be taken are doing their best,” General (retd) Naravane said. “The involvement of the foreign agencies, not only I say, cannot be ruled out but I will say they are definitely there, especially Chinese aid to various insurgent groups.” The former chief of the army staff said the Chinese aid has been helping these groups for years and will continue to do so even now.

On a question about the role of drug trafficking in the ongoing violence in the northeastern state, General (retd) Naravane said drug smuggling has been there for a very long time and the amount of drug which has been recovered has only increased over years.

“We are just a little remote from the Golden Triangle (the area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet). Myanmar is always in a state of disarray and military rule. Even at the best of times in Myanmar, the government only had control over the central Myanmar not really on the peripheral bordering state whether with India or with China or with Thailand. So drug trafficking has always been there,” he said.

He added, “There will probably be agencies or other actors in the game who benefit from the violence and who would not want a situation of normalcy to get on because while this instability is there, they stand to benefit.” “That might be one of the reasons why we are seeing this continuance of violence in spite of all the efforts, which I am sure have been put in by the state and the central governments to bring it down,” he said.

General (retd) Naravane was also asked a variety of questions related to army recruitment scheme Agnipath, restructuring in the Indian defence sector and the China-India skirmishes at the Galwan valley.

Talking about Agnipath, he said only time will tell whether it is a good scheme or not.

“Agnipath was launched after a great deal of deliberations. Many people say that it was launched due to financial and pecuniary reasons. That is also going to have an impact but the fact is that we need a young army,” he said.

When asked to give reasons behind the violent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan valley in May 2020, he said it is something he is not able to make out. “Post-Galwan, that is the first thing that we used to ask each other — why did China do this.” “Was it a localised action or did it have sanctions or blessings from the higher-ups? When the whole world was grappling with Covid, why did it undertake such a misadventure? I say misadventure because finally it had to go back but we are really not being able to fathom what the reason was. Or was it a combination of many factors including the creation of two union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh,” General Naravane said.