Monday, January 31, 2005

INDIA: Bangladesh to crackdown on rebel bases 30-31JAN [3 News Clippings]


01. Bangladesh may launch crackdown on anti-India rebel bases
02. Positive response from Bangladesh on checking militancy: Patil
03. Patil visits Bangladesh border for confidence building:

01. Bangladesh may launch crackdown on anti-India rebel bases

India says it is inching closer to convincing Dhaka to crack down on anti-India militant bases in Bangladesh and that the two countries are in negotiations to combat cross-border terrorism.

"In recent months there have been meetings at the bureaucratic and political level between the two countries on the issue of evicting militants from (Indian) northeastern states taking shelter in Bangladesh," Home Minister Shivraj Patil said in this Tripura capital.

"I would say there has been some positive action taken by Bangladesh to share our concern. We hope Bangladesh will soon take appropriate measures to flush out militants from their country," he said late on Sunday.

Patil said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was likely to take up the matter with his Bangladeshi counterpart on the sidelines of the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Dhaka next month.

New Delhi maintains there could be at least 150 camps of rebel groups from India in Bangladesh. Dhaka has in the past denied harbouring any militants.

"The two countries are already exchanging information on the matter and the need now is to work out a comprehensive mechanism to deal with the problem more effectively," Patil said.

The minister is on a four-day visit to the restive northeast to review internal security and matters related to cross-border terrorism. He visited some border areas and a Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) border post as part of confidence building exercise.

Patil will chair a meeting of all chief ministers here on Tuesday.

In Mizoram, the minister will review security measures along the state's border with Myanmar and Bangladesh following reports that the area has become a gunrunner's paradise.

"We shall apprise the minister of regular forays being made by militant groups from Myanmar entering Mizoram taking advantage of the unfenced border," a government spokesman said.



02. Positive response from Bangladesh on checking militancy: Patil

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said on Sunday that India had received a positive response from Bangladesh over curbing militant activities from that country and hoped that the issue would be resolved through further discussions between the two sides.

''There have been some positive steps by Bangladesh in this regard. The Home Secretary, after his talks in Bangladesh, has given me a report. However, there are certain areas which require more attention,'' he told reporters at the end of his programme here on the first day of his four-day visit to three Northeastern states.

The Home Minister expressed optimism that the talks between India and Bangladesh would be fruitful after the issue is discussed at the next SAARC summit to be held in Dhaka.

He said after the Secretary-level talks between the two countries, the issue was to have been taken up by the Prime Ministers of both the nations at the SAARC summit, which had been postponed following the tsunami disaster.

''But we have already created a mechanism in which both the sides would talk to each other and exchange information regularly on the problem of militancy,'' he said.

Describing terrorism as a ''double-edged weapon'', Mr Patil said such activities would pose problems also to Bangladesh in the future.

''Terrorism is a problem also for our neighbour. We hope this realisation will dawn upon Dhaka to produce better results. This problem has to be tackled by both of us.'' Expressing concern over the long, porous India-Bangladesh border in Tripura, Mr Patil said the fencing of the entire stretch would be completed as early as possible. ''We plan to carry on the task without creating any dispute. To make it more effective, we will go for modificatioin, if necessary, in the way we carried out the project earlier,'' he said.

Mr Patil, who visited two border outposts near Agartala during the day, was accompanied by Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar at the press conference.

He said he had a detailed discussion with the Chief Minister on this issues and other problems and exchanged ideas.

''The Chief Minister has made some very good suggestions. We will see how we can implement them,'' he said.

Denying that border fencing would sour India's relations with Bangladesh, the Home Minister said the border problem was a concern for both India and its neighbour, as it had a cascading effect on both sides. ''I do not see any reason why Bangladesh should be unhappy if it is solved.'' The Home Minister said he had discussed with Mr
Sarkar, a wide range of other issues, including disaster management and utilisation of genetic wealth.



03. Patil visits Bangladesh border for confidence building

Akhaura (India-Bangladesh Border), Jan 30 : India's Home Minister Shivraj Patil Sunday stressed the need for improved relations with Bangladesh to check cross-border terrorism along the country's northeastern frontiers.

"Let us work hand in hand and help each other," Patil said.

The minister was talking to Bangladeshi soldiers and officials at a Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) border post in Akhaura, two kilometres from Tripura's capital Agartala.

Col. Jahangir Alam led the BDR side during the meeting with Patil. The Bangladeshi soldiers gave Patil a military reception at the outpost and sweets were exchanged between the two sides.

A senior official of India's Border Security Force (BSF) said the visit was a courtesy call aimed at confidence building between the two countries.

"The minister's visit to the BDR post is part of our efforts at building an atmosphere of goodwill where the two countries can help each other in combating militancy and crime," the official said.

The minister arrived in Agartala Sunday afternoon on the first leg of his four-day visit to the northeast to review the internal security situation and matters pertaining to cross-border terrorism.

Patil, accompanied by the Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal and BSF Director General R. Mooshahary, earlier visited an airbase of the BSF at Jaichandrapara and another border outpost at Lankapura.

"The minister reviewed the progress made in the construction of a barbed wire fence in the border areas, besides talking to villagers," the BSF official said.

Tripura shares a 856-km border with Bangladesh, most of the area being unfenced with concrete pillars separating the two nations.

Patil is to hold a high-level security meeting Sunday night with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and top civil and police officials.

He will visit Mizoram Monday and reach Assam's main city of Guwahati Tuesday, when he will chair a meeting of chief ministers of the eight northeastern states, including Sikkim.

"The focus of the meeting will be to work out a coordinated approach to deal with militancy in the region," a home ministry official said.

Patil's visit assumes significance in view of a stepped-up offensive by militants in Assam and Manipur, besides intelligence reports of an increase in cross-border movement of militants along the India-Bangladesh border.

"There are some very disturbing reports indicating a rise in terrorist activities along the Bangladesh border and hence the need to chalk out new strategies to combat the menace," the official said.

The northeastern states have been demanding a unified effort in dealing with insurgency in the region.

"Some strategies are likely to be worked out for better coordination among the northeastern states during the meeting of chief ministers," the official said.