The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bangla to probe camp claim

Dhaka, Nov. 14: Bangladesh will investigate Delhi’s claim that rebels from India’s Northeast operate about 99 training camps on its soil, a government spokesman said here today.

“We will investigate it and the findings would be communicated to the Indian government,” foreign secretary Shamser Mobin Chowdhury told reporters.

Chowdhury, however, said Bangladesh had rejected Indian deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s remarks about the alleged activities of the ISI of Pakistan and al Qaida inside Bangladesh.

However, Chowdhury said Advani changed his position. Advani had said on November 7 that “after the change of government in Bangladesh, there has been an increase in the activities of al Qaida and ISI there”.

But, according to Chowdhury, on November 10, Advani said he had just stated that there were “reports” about growing activities of al Qaida and the ISI in Bangladesh after the change of government.

Commenting on the press release issued by the Indian high commission after envoy M.L. Tripathy was summoned on November 10, the foreign secretary wondered if the diplomat from Delhi had mixed up insurgents of the Northeast with al Qaida.

On the deportation of alleged criminals who crossed over to India in the wake of an operation against terrorism, Chowdhury said the particulars of the criminals would be supplied to the Indian authorities for action.

The foreign secretary said the government would communicate to Delhi the legal position and status of Ulfa leader Anup Chetia and Tripura extremist Sanjib Dev Burman. Both are in jail in Bangladesh.

Chowdhury also fielded questions on reports that the Bangladesh Rifles director-general was maltreated when he went to Delhi recently with the Border Security Force.

Chowdhury said the BDR chief and all members of his delegation were herded into a room at the Indian Air Force base on a false security alarm about a terrorist. “However, the BSF had intervened in the matter and the incident did not cast any adverse impact on the BDR-BSF talks,” Chowdhury told reporters.

Asked if Advani’s remarks and the exchange of sharp words between Dhaka and Delhi has made a dent in bilateral relations, the foreign secretary said it is the desire and commitment on the part of Bangladesh to pursue good relations with India.

Chowdhury added that trade talks between the joint secretaries of the two countries would be held on December 2 and 3.

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