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India to boost security along Bhutan border

world Updated: Mar 20, 2007 14:54 IST

AFP
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India is to post 3,000 more security personnel along its unfenced border with Bhutan to plug gaps that allow rebels from India to freely slip across the frontier, an official said on Monday.

The new deployment will increase the number of Indian personnel along the 643 kilometre border with the tiny Himalayan Kingdom to about 12,000.

"The decision to raise the strength of personnel ... was taken after Indian Home Secretary VK Duggal met the king of Bhutan, the country's prime minister and other officials over the weekend in Thimphu," said the intelligence official, who wished to remain unnamed.

It followed fresh reports of rebels from India's northeast and West Bengal states trying to set up bases inside Bhutan.

Bhutan launched a military operation to evict the rebels in December 2003 and said it had smashed up to 30 camps, ousting the militants.

India says many of its northeastern rebel groups including the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Kamatapur Liberation Organization that operates in West Bengal, have camps in neighbouring countries -- Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar.

"Both sides agreed to do our best to ensure border peace and maintain (a) vigil so that no untoward movement takes place into Bhutan," Duggal was quoted as saying by Bhutan's national newspaper

Kuensel

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Indian intelligence officials say ULFA, which has been fighting for an independent homeland since 1979, were on the lookout for safe havens in Bhutan after Myanmar launched a crackdown against their camps.

"There is pressure mounting on the ULFA inside Myanmar... the militants might once again try to sneak into Bhutan and hence the stepped up vigil ...," the intelligence official said.

India and Bhutan have also agreed to set up an intelligence exchange mechanism.

"In case any unwarranted movement is noticed ... we will have this system in place which will allow us to exchange the information instantly rather than after a period of time," Duggal was also quoted as saying.