New Delhi, July 21: Conflicting reports are emanating from Dhaka about a series of attacks on Ulfa hideouts and business firms run by its leaders holed up there.
The attacks, which took place within an hour-and-a-half on July 17, left one person dead and several injured, sources in New Delhi said. Four centres (reports of only two incidents have appeared in the Dhaka papers or shown on TV) in the Bangladesh capital used by the banned Assam militant outfit for meetings and business transactions came under attack on Saturday between 8 pm and 9.30 pm. The raids took place in Mack Tower, Hotel Asia, Globe Pharma and a flat in Dhaka’s North Shyamoli area.
Mack Tower, sources in India believe, is the centre from where the Ulfa runs its operations while Globe Pharma is allegedly owned by Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua. Though these two incidents have not been confirmed by sources in Dhaka or reported in the local press, New Delhi claims that Mack Tower has been closed since the attack. A physical verification would show the damage on Globe Pharma, it added.
There are also differing versions of the attack on Hotel Asia in the Segun Bagicha area of Dhaka and at North Shyamoli. According to local reports, a homemade bomb was hurled in the reception room of Hotel Asia, injuring two employees, Dilip and Jahid, said to be Bangladeshis.
The incident in North Shyamoli, according to sources in New Delhi, took place in flat number 146E at Agargoan where the militants were apparently holding a meeting. This incident was reported in the local media. The flat is owned by a doctor, Anwar Hossain, but reports claim that he was not present at the time of the attack. His father-in-law (70) was injured when the unidentified assailants opened fire. He died on his way to the hospital. Three others, the doctor’s wife, who is a bank employee, his mother-in-law and nephew, were injured. Indian sources said a meeting of the Ulfa was taking place at this location when it was attacked.
These sources also claimed that two vehicles proceeding towards the North Shyamoli were set ablaze after they were caught in a shootout. Dhaka Police, Indian sources believe, have recovered a large quantity of burnt US dollars from one of the vehicles. But the local media in Dhaka has been silent on this. Indian officials have confirmed the incidents but claimed that India had nothing to do with them. They do not, however, rule out the possibility of a row involving the Ulfa or between different Northeast militants over arms sharing.
They believe that the Chittagong arms haul in April was meant for several outfits of the region. There is also a theory that Paresh Barua himself was being targeted — there has apparently been no communication from him since July 17, the day of the attack.
The Bangladesh government has, however, dismissed these incidents as “baseless and concocted” in a statement issued by the High Commission in New Delhi. Dhaka had also denied the Chittagong arms haul. At that time, a massive arms consignment and ammunition sourced from former Soviet republics and East European countries had come into Chittagong, allegedly aboard a ship owned by the brother of an influential Bangladesh MP.
The July 17 attacks, sources said, only serve to underscore India’s contention about the presence of Northeast insurgents in Bangladesh. These incidents, New Delhi believes, were only one in a continuous series of events that underline the free run enjoyed by militants in the neighbouring country.