| KLO cadres at a training session at a camp in Sagaing division, Myanmar. File picture |
New Delhi, Jan. 7: India is looking for Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) leaders in Nepal and Myanmar where the outfit has spread its wings in nexus with other militant outfits.
Security agencies have seen the threat perception rise substantially in the past months in north Bengal and northwest Assam, sources said. The Bengal and Assam governments, central agencies and Military Intelligence are coordinating to neutralise the upsurge in the KLO’s activities.
The KLO, which wants a separate state of Kamtapur, comprising six districts of north Bengal and four of Assam, has split its financial and military wings, sources said. Its general secretary Kailash Koch or KK commands the military unit in north Myanmar’s Sagaing division and secretary (organisation), Rajiv alias Cobra, operates from southeastern Nepal to give the outfit its financial muscle, they added.
KLO supremo Jeevan Singh, who was in Bangladesh a few years ago, is said to have shifted base to Myanmar. With the Sheikh Hasina government coming down hard on Indian insurgents, Bangladesh has ceased to be a major sanctuary for rebels many of whom have shifted to Myanmar or Nepal while others have surrendered.
“Myanmar is beginning to understand the gravity of the threat and we understand the Myanmar government has asked many of these groups to vacate their camps,” a senior central government official said. Some of these camps are less than 70km from the Manipur border.
In Myanmar, Koch Rajbongshi militants share facilities with Meitei and Naga outfits. Meitei insurgent groups like the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup of Manipur operate in the vicinity of Sagaing division where the KLO has set up camps. The KLO has the same training and living facilities as the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) and the Manipur Naga Revolutionary Front (MNRF).
In his speech on the KLO’s 20th foundation day last month, Koch greeted Imphal valley-based outfits and the NSCN (Khaplang), which is a major force in Sagaing.
The region is a hotbed of Indian militant outfits that operate in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Bengal. Their weapons are mostly sourced from arms bazars in Ruili, China.
In lower Nepal, which borders Indian states, the KLO is active in Mechi zone where it is believed to be in touch with criminals and a medley of militant outfits to kidnap businessmen. Indian agencies are on the hunt for several KLO activists who planned abductions in Siliguri in north Bengal and northwest Assam, sources in intelligence agencies said.
“The government of Nepal is very helpful in our efforts,” an official acknowledged.
Assam director-general of police J.N. Choudhury met his West Bengal counterpart G.M. P. Rajasekhar Reddy on December 13 to discuss the KLO’s activities across the two states. Following the Jalpaiguri blast, senior police officials from the two states met again.
“There is a well-established chain of coordination,” Choudhury said. “The KLO’s centre of gravity has shifted to Assam,” he added.
The Assam DGP said the Nagaland-Manipur corridor was used for weapon smuggling by several outfits, including the KLO, who have bases in Myanmar. Coordination with states like Manipur needs sprucing up, he conceded.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee discussed the KLO’s resurgence with Union home secretary Anil Goswami when he visited Bengal on December 31. Bengal is actively pursuing the rebels following a blast in Jalpaiguri last month that killed six persons.