At least 25 Jamaat-e-Islami fanatics turned Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) renegades could be manning uncharted camps of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in Bangladesh.
Senior BDR officials had during a routine border meeting in the Meghalaya sector of the Indo-Bangladesh boundary disclosed at least 25 BDR rebels were still at large. They suspected these men could have sneaked into Northeast India, but indicated they were equally likely to have been lying low in ULFA camps, particularly in the jungles of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The BDR officials confirmed that the hardliner Jamaat – it was a ruling ally of Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh National Party that lost the elections to Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League last December – had infiltrated heavily into the BDR to virtually make it the mentor of most Northeast militant outfits including the ULFA.
These hardliners were behind the BDR revolt last February 26 that left at least 50 persons dead. Many mutineers surrendered the following day, but many more absconded.
“There’s a strong possibility that these men could be running the ULFA camps, now that the Sheikh Hasina government is wielding the stick. Many of the outfits top leaders are also believed to be elsewhere in Asia,” an Intelligence officer told HT here on Sunday.
Assam Police chief GM Srivastava had on Saturday claimed ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua “is now in China” apprehending a crackdown. Among the top guns in Bangladesh is ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia. In a Bangladesh jail since 1998, Chetia has sought political asylum in that country.
According to Border Security Force officials, stricter vigil along the 4,095 km Indo-Bangladesh border negated the chances of the BDR renegades having sneaked into India. However, the encounter death of Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) ‘foreign secretary’ Frankie Dimasa early Thursday morning contradicted this theory.
Frankie, according to Assam Police, had taken shelter in Guwahati after creeping into India from Bangladesh, where he had been exploring the possibility of DHD-J militants setting up bases or investing in real estate as in Nepal.
The ULFA’s top leaders run a chain of hotels, departmental stores and other businesses in Bangladesh. They are also believed to hold 60 per cent stakes in tea estates in the adjoining country.