Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Analysis: Bangladesh behind North East slaughter?

[Merely lamenting Dhaka’s lack of cooperation is not enough. Too much is at stake and too many lives have already been lost to bother about the diplomatic sensitivities of a neighbour whose standard response is denial. India should make a high-level diplomatic demarche on Bangladesh. If Dhaka remains recalcitrant, approach the UN and demand action. Under the UN Security Council Resolution 1373, all states are enjoined to prevent those who finance, plan, facilitate or commit terrorist acts from using their respective territories against other countries and their citizens. If the UN, too, fails in its task, New Delhi should make it known that it reserves the right to consider other unilateral measures.]

Terror in NE comes via Bangladesh
Nandini R. Iyer
New Delhi, October 5


Bangladesh has become the biggest hub for militant groups attacking India's north-eastern states. The remnant of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and all top United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) leaders are holed up there, said highly placed government sources.

Indian security agencies are convinced that the leaders of these outfits are being asked to pay for the shelter given to them — by orchestrating violence in the north-east at the behest of Pakistan's ISI and Bangladesh's Directorate General of Foreign Intelligence. Two attacks in Assam prove this, say officials.

  • On August 15, 16 children died in a blast at a college in Assam's Dhemaji town. ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa indirectly admitted to the attack when he accused the Indian government of using children as shields against "expected ULFA attacks".

  • On June 24, when six persons died in a bomb blast in Mathurapur, Sibasagar district, ULFA leader Paresh Barua blamed Indian intelligence agencies for the attack. It was a convenient way out because the attack went against the ULFA's stated policy of not hitting civilian targets.

Indian agencies are armed with evidence that Rajkhowa and Barua are in Bangladesh.

The NDFB too is now entirely a Bangladesh-based outfit. Just 200 of its cadres remain after the Royal Bhutanese Army's "Ops All Clear". All of them are now in Boyalcharri in the Chittagong Hill tracts.

The group has built up joint facilities with the ULFA in Mymensingh and Rangpur adjoining the Garo hills.

Officials say, however, that the only NDFB leader of consequence in Bangladesh is the outfit's boss Ranjan Daimary. Members of its second line, like general secretary Gobinda Basumatary, vice-chairman Dhiren Boro and finance secretary, Nileshwar Basumatary, have either surrendered or been arrested.

Intelligence analysis suggests that Daimary's isn't participating in a dialogue with New Delhi because he is confident of Dhaka's unconditional support.

But Dhaka’s support may not last. Experts believe that the ongoing international movement against terrorism and the gathering momentum for regional co-operation under the Bay of Bengal Initiative (BIMSTEC) will force Dhaka to choose between the economic benefits of trade and friendly relations with neighbours, and harbouring terrorists.

Enemies of the people

The simultaneous bomb blasts in Nagaland on Gandhi Jayanti and the series of blasts that hit Assam the following day are senseless acts of terror that deserve to be condemned. Those who set off bombs in crowded areas are not insurgents fighting for a cause, but terrorists who care little as to whether they have killed innocent men, women and children or security personnel. Suspicion has focused on two groups, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), since both groups have in the recent past displayed a ruthlessness in targeting innocents. It would appear that after licking their wounds following the operations against their camps in Bhutan, the groups have decided to show that they are still active. If so, the government must act fast to crush the violence with an iron hand. In targeting Nagaland, the perpetrators are seeking to derail the peace process between the Centre and the long-running Naga insurgency.

While Home Minister Shivraj Patil is to be congratulated for moving much faster than he did in the case of Manipur, there is still no clear indication as to just how the government intends to tackle the renewed challenge. His call for a long-term strategy and coordinated action against militancy is neither here nor there. The straightforward issue is that the government must press ahead and act against the sanctuaries the militants have in Bangladesh.

Merely lamenting Dhaka’s lack of cooperation is not enough. Too much is at stake and too many lives have already been lost to bother about the diplomatic sensitivities of a neighbour whose standard response is denial. India should make a high-level diplomatic demarche on Bangladesh. If Dhaka remains recalcitrant, approach the UN and demand action. Under the UN Security Council Resolution 1373, all states are enjoined to prevent those who finance, plan, facilitate or commit terrorist acts from using their respective territories against other countries and their citizens. If the UN, too, fails in its task, New Delhi should make it known that it reserves the right to consider other unilateral measures.

Hindustan Times 05/10/04