Last week, as India Today reported “a mega operation (by the Indian army) to eliminate threats posed by insurgents along the Indo-Myanmar border”, a section of the Indian media went on a misinformation tizzy.
According to the report by India Today correspondent Abhishek Bhalla, published on 15 March, the Indian and Myanmar armies carried out a “joint operation” between 17 February and 2 March to destroy bases of the Arakan Army (AA), a Myanmar-based insurgent group. Citing a “senior officer in the security establishment”, the report said that most of these bases were set up in “areas adjoining the Lawngtala district of Mizoram”. It further stated that the AA posed a threat to “the mega Kaladan Project”.Simultaneously, several other media outlets carried the news about the so-called “surgical strike 3.0” in various forms and under different headlines. However, most of these were rife with either outright misinformation or unverified facts that not only jumped the gun on the military operation, but also ended up slandering the stateless Rohingya Muslim community.Contrary to what the above reports claim, the Arakan Army is not a “Rohingya insurgent” group. It is an ethnic Rakhine armed group that is fighting for the self-determination of Rakhine state. The outfit, proscribed by the Myanmar government as a “terrorist organisation” after an attack on border police outposts on 4 January, claims to represent the Rakhine Buddhist