Central intelligence agencies have warned the state government of a growing threat from the separatist Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO).
A cautionary note from central intelligence sleuths says that the KLO could be close to sealing a merger with a rainbow coalition of militant outfits active in the North-East.
While the southern districts of Bengal are in the shadow of terror, as was evidenced by the October 2 Burdwan blast and the complex web of terror that it brought to the surface, a resurgent KLO, in league with other insurgent outfits in the NorthEast, could lead to a fresh of spell of violence and instability in North Bengal as well.
Founded in December 1995, the KLO waged an armed insurgency for a separate Kamtapur state-to be carved out of six North Bengal districts and another four in lower Assam, namely Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara.
However, the movement petered out after a string of arrests of top KLO commanders.
Though in sleep mode now, with several of its leaders serving jail time, the KLO threatens to rise again in league with the United Front of Western Southeast Asia (UNLF-WBSA), a terror conglomerate featuring nine active insurgent forces in the North-East.
The cautionary note from the central intelligence agencies reached Nabanna sometime over the last couple of weeks.
“Joining the coalition of insurgent outfits would boost the KLO no end and enable the separatists to recruit cadres and unleash a fresh spell of violence in North Bengal and lower reaches of Assam. They would start drawing cadres from the six North Bengal districts that they want to be part of the Kamtapur state,” a senior state official told HT.
The current cadre strength of the KLO is estimated to be somewhere around 400.
The terror conglomerate was born on January 2015 after a secret conclave of leaders of all nine insurgent outfits in the Sagiang division in western Myanmar. The meeting allegedly had the backing of Chinese intelligence agencies.
SS Khaplang, who heads the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), was elected leader of the terror front.
The Paresh Barua-led faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is another influential force in the terror league. The Baruafaction is also believed to have trained and mentored the KLO ins urgents. The recent ambush of an army convoy in Manipur that left 18 jawans dead had been the first big strike since the coming of the terror front. The NSCN (K) had owned responsibility for the June 4 ambush.
“The merger of the KLO with the terror front could pose a grave security risk for the six North Bengal districts (Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda). Bengal doesn’t have adequate security apparatus to tackle this threat,” the state official said. Once the merger happens, the KLO’s dependence on ULFA for funds and arms training could be reduced significantly.
The KLO would, then, enjoy support and patronage of the six insurgent forces that are allegedly aided by Chinese intelligence agencies and a section of the Myanmar army.
The KLO could also draw on the money and muscle power of the terror conglomerate to not only sustain itself but also fund its terror designs.
The KLO movement lost its teeth after top commander Rambo was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Kokrajhar last year. Tom Adhikari, another top KLO commander, was also arrested.
The twin setbacks broke the back of the insurgent outfit and grounded their armed campaign. Jeevan Singh alias Timir Das, the undisputed leader of the KLO, is suspected to have been killed during the surprise cross-border assault on NorthEast insurgent camps by the elite para-commandos of the Indian army.
A few top KLO leaders gave themselves in a face of a security crackdown.