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Militants make good customers

Nov. 2: The encounter in Buxa Duar yesterday in which two Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) militants were killed is an indication that the rebels are changing their entry routes into India from Bhutan, said intelligence officials.

The officials said the militants, who earlier sneaked in through Kumargram block which borders Bhutan, are now shifting west towards Buxa Duar and Totopara. Jalpaiguri superintendent of police Siddh Nath Gupta said: “After vigil was tightened in Kumargram, they were finding it difficult to enter India. The district police and the CRPF had set up camps there. The rebels shifted to Shamuktala but we moved in there as well. Finally, they moved to Kalchini and we have reports that they are trying to enter though the north of Totopara and through Buxa Duar.”

The KLO militants were killed in an encounter on the banks of the Katlung river between Dalandi and Tashigaon on the India-Bhutan border. One of the militants was identified as Rahul Sinha, a resident of Salkumarhat under Alipurduar police station. He is learnt to have been a member of the fourth batch of the KLO, which went to Bhutan for training. The other rebel was identified today as Tapan Das, a resident of Chengmari in Kumargramdooar. He was a batch senior to Das.

Gupta said the slain militants had come to buy medicines from the Buxa Hills for their camps. “The militants from Jotjulung camp in Bhutan come to the Buxa hills between Friday and Sunday to shop for necessities, including medicines.”

For the traders of Santalabari, Buxa Duar and Totopara, the militants are “good customers” who never bargain, purchase in bulk and are regular in payments. They purchase everything from candles, matchsticks and mosquito repellents to rice, sugar, cosmetics and other grocery.

“After the goods are packed, they head for Buxa Duar with the sack laden on their shoulders. We do not have any idea where they go,” said a shopkeeper at Santalabari on condition of anonymity.

Located on the foothills of the Bhutan hills, about 8 km from the Buxa fort and about 15 km from Rupam valley, the last frontier of Indian territory, Santalabari is one of the main markets from where the militants buy goods for everyday use.

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