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NE militants fear a Bangla crack down

Ratnadeep Choudhury
With the newly sworn in Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina talking hard of not allowing anti Indian terror activities from her country’s soil, insurgents belonging to various outlawed outfits of

Northeast are fleeing their bases in Bangladesh fearing a possible military crackdown.  

Within days of Bangladesh Prime Minister’s statement of not allowing anti Indian activities from her soil, the obvious impact of her statement is being felt in India’s Northeast. The last two-week had seen cadres of various outlawed separatist outfits of Northeast who were based in Bangladesh and engaged in bloody insurgency laying down arm to security forces in different part of Northeast. Surrender by militants is a routine affair in Northeast - a region that has been simply ruined by long sustained ethnic insurgency. The recent surrenders are seen in a different perspective - signaling panic creeping in the rank and file of insurgent groups from northeast sheltered in Bangladesh.

“Situation is changing in Bangladesh, we were worried about future, our camps might be attacked. We were also frustrated with the jungle life, our leaders are enjoying good life in Bangladesh” says Kanchan Kumar Reang, a hardcore rebel of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) who fled his base camp in Bangladesh and surrendered to Assam Rifles with 27 other Tripura militants fearing a possible military offensive on their camps in that country.   

Days before the 28 rebels came over ground, two top commanders of the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) crossed over the International border and surrendered. In Assam, 46 insurgents, including 42 from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and 4 from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), surrendered to the cops. “Surrenders in Northeast, especially in Tripura is very common but the recent spree of surrender certainly has something to do with sheikh Hasina coming to power in Bangladesh” says Tapas Dey, a veteran political Analyst.  

Indian intelligence agencies maintain that there are more then 100 camps, hideouts and safe houses of various northeast militant outfits in Bangladesh, especially in Sylhet district and Chittagong Hill Tracts. A trio nexus of Inter services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, Bangladesh’s military intelligence agency - Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and Bangladesh wing of Islamic fundamentalist organization Harkat-Ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI-B) has not only been sheltering and training the rebels of Northeast in Bangladesh but actively plotting serial bomb blasts in Northeast. Investigations into the horrifying serial bomb blasts that rocked Assam last October and left at least 88 people dead, suggest hand of DGFI behind NFDB and ULFA to carry out the operation.  

The pack of northeast separatist outfits having bases in Bangladesh is led by ULFA. ULFA has been acting as a friend, philosopher and guide for smaller ethnic rebel outfits of Northeast like ATTF. “ULFA camp was not far from us, it took just 15 minutes, half kilometers away. We were in close contact. They used to train us” surrendered rebel Kanchan Kumar Reang adds. Sources in Assam Police suggest that ULFA has turned into a surrogate outfit of HUJI-B and works on the behest of ISI and DGFI. “We have intelligence input that ULFA boys led a team of other northeast rebels including ATTF cadres, who were given advanced training in bomb making in Maximhat near Chittagong from April to June this year. The training was organized by DGFI” a senior intelligence sleuth of Tripura Police corroborates.  

All most all the major terror attacks in India in past 12 months had a Bangla link in one way or the other. On numerous occasions New Delhi had handed over lists of camps and other documents of proof to Dhaka. Dhaka had always maintained a denial mode. India has made it clear to Bangladesh that its patience is running out and now its time for Dhaka to act. Documentary evidences suggest that Northeast militants outfits have hideouts in posh localities of Dhaka apart from Habigunj,Sathcherri, Khagracheri,Moulvi Bazar, Mymensingh, Bandardarban, Chittagong Hill Tracts and Cox's Bazar. The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) led by Thuingaleng Muivah which is on a ceasefire agreement with New Delhi also maintains two training camps in Khagrachari and Bandarban.The same is the case with NDFB. Home Minister P Chidambaram was also found deeply concerned with the rampant entry of anti-Indian elements along the India-Bangla route. A section of people in successive governments in Bangladesh and a strong lobby in Bangladesh military had always tired to keep India’s eastern border disturbed.

But this time with Sheikh Hasina coming back to power, India is pinning new hopes. If Bangladesh based sources are to be believed then a crackdown on Northeast militants hiding in Bangladesh is on the cards. Apart from pressure from India and the international community Sheikh Hasina has another reason to order a crackdown. On August 21, 2004, bomb blasts occurred at Hasina’s rally in Dhaka. Hasina escaped, but her 30 supporters were killed. There are intelligence inputs that the attack was carried out by ULFA boys on the order of DGFI. Hasina would certainly try to teach a lesson to both ULFA and DGFI which works rather independently as it is modeled on ISI.  

The recent surrender of rebels from Northeast after fleeing from their hideouts in Bangladesh not only confirms that the neighbouring country is sheltering anti-Indian forces but also reveals the state of confusion that the Northeast militants are in with the change of guards in Dhaka. With external Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee slated to visit Dhaka soon, its time for New Delhi to pursue Dhaka to go the Bhutan way – a total armed crackdown on the rebel bases.  

(Photo of Author)       Ratnadeep Choudhury is a Journalist based in Agartala, capital of the Northeastern state of Tripura. He has been extensively working on various issues related to Northeast India. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.