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Buddha to press for Dhaka rebel swoop

Calcutta, July 8: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said he would request the Centre to get Bangladesh to flush out Indian militants from its territory.

“I will meet Union home minister Shivraj Patil on Monday and urge him to take up the matter with Dhaka,” the chief minister told the Assembly in response to Trinamul Congress member Saugata Roy’s concern over heightened Ulfa (United Liberation Front of Asom) and KLO (Kamtapur Liberation Organisation) activities in north Bengal.

“The KLO activists are attacking political leaders and common people and extorting money from businessmen. The residents of north Bengal are in panic,” said Roy.

Last December, the Royal Bhutan Army flushed out Indian militants camping in the Himalayan Kingdom.

Bhattacharjee said the Bhutanese operation brought down extremist activities in north Bengal. He added: “But militant activities have not stopped. The KLO big guns have either been arrested or forced to surrender. However, according to our information, two small groups are still operating from enclaves within Bangladesh adjacent to Cooch Behar. KLO activities will come to an end if these two groups are flushed out. Our security forces are alert.”

The Ulfa is still very active in Assam, the chief minister said. “Its guerrillas are training KLO activists and supplying arms.”

The Ulfa militants, who are apparently being trained in Afghanistan, have set up camps in Bangladesh. Bhattacharjee said: “In Assam, the Ulfa is carrying out disruptive activities. We are in constant touch with the Assam government and I have spoken with the Assam chief minister on tracking down militants. Senior police officers of the two states are working together.”

The chief minister said the militants are using sophisticated imported weapons being supplied by some major militant outfit with ISI links.

Bhattacharjee said 166 KLO activists had been identified by the state. About 35 of them have managed to elude the net. Jalpaiguri police, in collaboration with the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Force and other security agencies, are making all-out efforts to nab them, the chief minister said.

“Be it Ulfa or the KLO, they are crossing over to Bangladesh. If a flushout operation is not carried out there, we will not be able to root out militancy. Recently, the Bangladesh foreign minister met me. I explained the problem in details and urged him to drive them out. I had requested the Centre earlier and will urge the Union home minister again to take it up with Dhaka,” the chief minister said.

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