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Pranab shelter salvo at Dhaka

Jangipur, May 30: Armed with an intelligence report, Pranab Mukherjee today claimed that the Bangladesh government was providing shelter to KLO and Ulfa militants.

“Our Intelligence Bureau reports confirm that Indian extremists (are) taking shelter in Bangladesh,” the defence minister said.

“Though the Bangladesh government was informed several times in this regard and even handed a list of centres where the extremists are staying and running their camps, no positive response has so far come from the neighbouring country. We will tell them once again not to entertain any sort of terrorist activities against India,” said the minister.

Mukherjee, on a two-day tour of Jangipur from where he was elected to the Lok Sabha, said the Centre would initiate talks with Bangladesh on this score soon.

The Bangladesh Rifles was, however, quick to deny Mukherjee’s allegation.

“No such centres or camps exist on our territory. In the last meeting between the Border Security Force and the BDR, the issue came up for discussion. We also handed over (to) them a list of places in India where extremist groups have taken refuge,” director (operations) of BDR Colonel S. Kamal said over phone from Dhaka.

According to the BSF’s intelligence wing, BSF director-general Ajai Raj Sharma recently met Mukherjee to hand over a list of 194 places in Bangladesh where four extremist organisations, including KLO and Ulfa, have taken refuge.

“Though the Bangladesh government denied the allegation initially, it had to accept our allegation when we mentioned the places with specific details. It is expected that the Bangladesh government will take steps against extremists as the Bhutan government did to flush out Indian militants from its territory,” said an intelligence official.

Colonel Kamal, however, repeated that there were no extremist camps in Bangladesh. “We have searched all the 194 places mentioned by the BSF and nothing was found,” he claimed.

Mukherjee, who addressed a number of rallies in Murshidabad, praised the Bhutan government. “We must thank the army of Bhutan for taking action against extremist groups. We want the Bangladesh government to take a lesson from it and drive out the Indian extremists from its territory,” the defence minister said.

Replying to another question, Mukherjee, also state Congress president, said Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and her party leaders should rejoin the Congress.

“The Congress has emerged as the principal Opposition party and the Trinamul Congress has become a minority. Against this backdrop, I appeal to Trinamul Congress workers to rejoin the parent party. This will help us step up a united movement against the CPM,” he remarked.

Asked to comment, Mamata retorted: “Let Pranabbabu and other Congress leaders join the Trinamul Congress. In the Lok Sabha elections, while Trinamul bagged 30 per cent of the votes polled, the Congress obtained only 14 per cent. So, it is better if the Congress joins our party to mount an anti-CPM movement,” she said.

The defence minister, who returned to Calcutta tonight, further said the Congress would fight the CPM in Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura “despite our equations with the CPM at the national level”.

“The CPM has murdered democracy in Bengal by unleashing terror on our innocent party workers. We will fight the communists tooth and nail,” he remarked.

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