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Advani rain check to Bhutan

New Delhi, Dec. 22: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today described Bhutan’s military offensive to flush out Northeast insurgents as a “major development” in the region, sending a signal to neighbours where anti-India forces are active.

The government and the people of India are grateful to the king of Bhutan, who has always been a good friend and neighbour, he said and clarified that Delhi would help ensure the kingdom does not suffer because of the offensive.

“Whatever Bhutan wants us to do, we shall do when the time comes,’’ Advani said, implying that Delhi will not forget the risk Bhutan has taken in challenging well-armed and well-trained militants who have been waging a separatist war from Bhutanese soil.

The United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) warned the king of reprisals against Bhutanese nationals in the Northeast.

Delhi hopes Bhutan’s action will have a positive reaction in the region and make it more difficult for neighbours such as Bangladesh to continue covert help to anti-India militants.

Sources in the Indian security establishment had said Dhaka was consistently denying the presence of Indian militants “despite specific evidence”.

The Border Security Force director-general had earlier this month announced handing to Bangladesh a list of 155 camps of the Ulfa, the All Tripura Tiger Force and other Northeast rebel outfits.

By holding up Bhutan as an example, Delhi will now call for “friendly’’ governments to show their sincerity by not granting sanctuary to Northeast insurgents.

While speaking to reporters after presiding over the 16th Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture at Vigyan Bhavan here this evening, Advani refused comment on the flushout and the likely date of its conclusion.

The deputy Prime Minister showered praise on India’s intelligence agencies while speaking to senior intelligence officials. These agencies, he said, have often been subject to unfair criticism. “I respect this organisation in a big way,’’ Advani said to thunderous applause.

He added that the NDA government’s biggest achievement has been to make India a respected voice internationally.

 

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