An influential tribal separatist group in Assam on Saturday for the first time openly admitted to using Bangladesh as a base to carry out their hit-and-run guerrilla strikes in the region, a rebel leader said. He urged the neighbouring country to help them.
"I would like to request the government of Bangladesh to extend helping hands in our struggle for freedom. Particularly, I would like to request the security forces of Bangladesh not to harass or arrest our cadres and members when they sometimes cross to Bangladesh for their safety and security," D R Nabla, president of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), said in a statement said.
Nabla's statement was made on the NDFB's 23rd foundation day on Saturday.
The NDFB is fighting for an independent homeland for the Bodo tribe in Assam since 1986.
This is the first time any rebel group in the northeast has formally acknowledged operating out of Bangladesh.
New Delhi has repeatedly claimed that several of the militant groups active in the northeast have well entrenched bases in Bangladesh, an allegation Dhaka has continued to deny.
Indian intelligence and home ministry officials were on record saying on several occasions that Nabla and other top leaders of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) were based in Bangladesh.
"If our people have helped Bangladeshis on all counts for freedom from Pakistan without questioning their legitimacy or whatsoever, it becomes an obligation for the people and the government of Bangladesh to help us in our freedom struggle against India," the NDFB chief said in the statement.
The NDFB is blamed for the October 30, 2008 serial explosions in Assam in which about 100 people were killed and more than 300 wounded.
A faction of the NDFB led by guerrilla leader Gobinda Basumatary is operating a ceasefire with New Delhi since 2004. But the Nabla-led group of the NDFB is still waging a bush war against the Indian state.
"We are not against talks. We are still ready for talks. If India prepares for peace talks with us based on the dream of our martyrs and founding principles of our party, we are prepared for talks," the NDFB leader said.
More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Assam during the past two decades.