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Buddha to take rebel case to Bhutan

Dhupguri, Sept. 1: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today asked Bhutan to make “sincere’’ efforts to flush out Kamtapur Liberation Organisation militants hiding in that country and said he would soon visit Thimpu to discuss the issue with the Bhutanese king.

“The KLO and its ally Ulfa have been carrying out subversive activities in north Bengal from their safe havens in south Bhutan. We cannot tolerate it any longer. I will personally take up the matter with the Bhutanese king,” Bhattacharjee, on his first visit to Dhupguri since the KLO gunned down five CPM workers on August 17, said at a party rally held under tight security.

The chief minister said he had discussed the issue with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and asked him to pressure the Bhutanese government to shut down the militant camps being run in the jungles of the Himalayan kingdom.

Bhattacharjee said he now wants to settle the issue in a “face-to-face’’ meeting with Bhutanese king Jigme Singye Wangchuk, who had recently sent him an invitation to visit the country.

“Although it’s a diplomatic issue, I will take it up with the king since I have a personal invitation from him. The Bhutanese government should make sincere efforts to drive the terrorists from its jungle as it’s a friendly neighbour,’’ Bhattacharjee said.

He accused the Opposition parties of “encouraging” the KLO and the People’s War to foment trouble and oust his government. Without naming the Congress and the Trinamul Congress, he said the Opposition is “bankrupt of any political programmes’’ to counter the Left Front.

“The Opposition parties maintain silence when the disruptive forces are killing innocent people in the state. Instead of condemning their acts, they are encouraging them,” he said.

The chief minister admitted in public that there was an intelligence failure. “We had not received the right information on the KLO’s plan. Otherwise, the attack on our party office could have been prevented.’’

He said the administration has learnt a “lesson” and the police force is being equipped to fend off terrorist attacks in future. The government suspects the hand of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence in the growth of the KLO and the Ulfa, Bhattacharjee added.

He accused the KLO and the Kamtapur Peoples’ Party (KPP) of misleading the Rajbanshis in north Bengal. “Where were the Kamtapuris during the Left Front’s land reforms agitation' It was the Left Front which distributed land to the landless Rajbanshis.’’

He said the government is not going to give in to the militants. “Guns are not the answer to the Kamtapur issue. If they (the KLO) think they will achieve anything at gunpoint, they are mistaken. Let me see how many guns they have to take on the might of the state.”

KPP build-up

Coinciding a “revival thrust” to the Kamtapur agitation with the chief minister’s visit to Dhupguri, KPP president Atul Roy urged party workers to surmount odds to fulfil the “latent ambitions” of ethnic Rajbanshis.

The KPP will hold simultaneous demonstrations in Malda, Darjeeling, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri on September 25 to protest against “police atrocities” on party cadre “on the pretext of tracking down KLO militants”, Roy said.

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