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Buddha speaks in Delhi’s voice

New Delhi, Feb. 8: Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today echoed the A.B. Vajpayee government’s charge of heightened activity by the ISI from across the Bangladesh and Nepal borders.

At the chief ministers’ conference on internal security in Delhi, Bhattacharjee also endorsed the Centre’s drive against illegal immigrants.

“The ISI is operating mostly from neighbouring countries. On the question of dealing with illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh, our state government is in agreement with the government of India that whenever such infiltration is detected, the foreign nationals should be pushed back,” he said.

Bhattacharjee wanted the Centre to step up security along the border, including that with Bhutan, because separatists operating in the state were being trained and armed inside the Himalayan kingdom. The state government had definite information of 14 militant camps operating from inside the Himalayan kingdom, he said.

Bengal added its voice to the Assam government’s constant complaints about Bhutan. Thimpu’s ties with India are excellent, but the country has not been able to prevent northeastern separatist groups setting up camps there.

Bhattacharjee asked New Delhi to urge the Bhutanese government to close down these camps. Cadre of separatist organisations such as the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation are being trained and armed by the United Liberation Front of Asom and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and are supported by the ISI.

“There is an urgent need to dismantle the Ulfa camps — about 14 in number — located inside Bhutan where KLO militants are given training and shelter,” he said.

“Another worrisome issue relates to the activities of the ISI in the state,” said Bhattacharjee, who was the first speaker at the conference.

Between November 1996 and December 2002, the state administration arrested 125 persons for spying, carrying weapons and explosives and waging war against the state. “Hard evidence is available with us showing that many of those arrested have been operating from outside our borders,” the chief minister said.

However, he fell short of falling in line with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s suggestion for a federal agency to deal with specific crimes, saying law and order was a state subject.

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