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Bangladesh hardens stance on rebel groups

The Indian rebel group ULFA is said to be on the defensive as the government in Bangladesh is adopting a tough stance on terrorism.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2007 12:38 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Indian rebel groups, especially the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), are said to be on the defensive as the caretaker government in Bangladesh is adopting a tough stance with regard to terrorism and rebel outfits.

A senior government source here said on Thursday: "Within days of taking over last month, the Chief Adviser (Fakhruddin Ahmed) declared that his government will not tolerate terrorism against India from the soil of Bangladesh.

Our reports from Bangladesh say in the current crackdown by Bangladeshi security forces against corrupt politicians, most of ULFA's local godfathers have been arrested on serious charges, including support to terrorism".

Reliable Indian government sources told IANS that ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua has asked his cadres in Bangladesh to lie low for sometime.

"The ULFA leadership in Bangladesh seems to be increasingly becoming jittery.

Analysts are of the opinion that ULFA is trying to buy time and regroup at a later stage," the source, who did not want to be identified, told the agency.

According to the source, the ULFA's decision to withdraw their boycott call to the National Games in Assam on the pretext of appeals from Assamese sportspersons like Monalisa Barua who represented India was a sign of a climbdown.

The ULFA has also offered to hold dialogue with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi recently.

According to security expert KPS Gill, the ULFA leaders, especially its commander Paresh Barua who operates the 'command headquarters' at Dhaka, has over the years "turned the movement into a virtual mafia industry".

"One of their key demands in the early days was to prevent illegal immigrants from Bangladesh into Assam and deportation of such immigrants who had settled in the state.

This is no longer the demand of ULFA as its leaders are guests of Bangladesh," Gill told the agency.

Sources said that of late the ULFA is also strengthening its links with Islamic radical groups in Assam like the MULTA (Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam).

The MULTA has contacts with the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) of Bangladesh.

The ULFA headquarters in Bangladesh has been working not only with intelligence agencies of Bangladesh, Pakistan and China, but also with Islamic extremists forces, the source said.

"The international conspiracies to foment dissidence in India's Northeast are neither new nor localised.

Paresh Barua has been living in Bangladesh for a decade and a half. There have been Western interests, the Chinese involvement since the 1950s starting with the Naga movement, and the Pakistani intelligence operations with the help of successive governments in Dhaka," the source said.

"This would also include the Awami League rule from 1996 to 2001. The worst period was the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) rule from 2001 to 2006 when Bangladesh's security agencies were thrown open to Pakistan's terrorist operations against India," the source said.

"ULFA was given a pride of place in these operations. ULFA leaders regularly visited Pakistan for consultations on Bangladeshi passports.

Similarly, ULFA cadres were sent to Pakistan for training. One of passports held by Barua is in the name of Kamran Khan," the source said.

Like many revolutionary groups that start with an ideology and purpose, ULFA has veered off its cause for which it was created 27 years back.

The recent senseless killings of Bihari migrants, most of them poor, in Assam have again raised questions about the agenda of ULFA, which claims to be fighting for a sovereign Assam.

First Published: Feb 16, 2007 12:32 IST

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