Alipurduar, Sept. 3: The Bhutan government, under pressure from Indian authorities to flush out Ulfa and KlO militants following the Dhupguri killings, has begun to act against the rebels hiding in that country.
Intelligence sources, quoting militants arrested in the past week, said Bhutanese authorities have already dismantled a rope bridge over a river the militants were using in the jungles of south Bhutan.
Sources said the arrested militants admitted the Bhutan government’s move had put the guerrillas in a difficult position as they were using the bridge to transport rations and arms.
The Bhutan offensive came barely two days after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, addressing a public rally in Dhupguri, asked the neighbouring country to make “sincere” efforts to drive out the militants. He said he would soon visit Thimpu and discuss the issue with the Bhutanese king.
Bhattacharjee said he had also urged deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani to take it up with the Bhutan government.
Sources said the bridge spanning a gushing Himalayan river was about 80 feet long and was located on the militant route to the eastern Dooars from Bhutan. The dismantling of the bridge has dented the confidence of the militants, who “felt the Bhutan government would never act against them”, the sources added.
The arrested militants, who included linkman Takura Das, told the interrogating officials that KLO chief Tamir Das, alias Jeevan Singh, had been holed up in his forest hideout in Bhutan since the Dhupguri strike on August 17. The KLO leadership suffered a major setback when police gunned down Rohini Adhikary near Bhutan’s border.
The arrested rebels said they were totally “cut off” from their leaders holed up in Bhutan. “We don’t know what to do now, what decision to make. There is no one to guide us,” they told the police.
Sources said Adhikary was on his way to Bhutan to meet the KLO chief when the police team spotted him. He was shot dead, but his two associates managed to give the slip.
As the police stepped up the crackdown on KLO activists, the militants took shelter in “safe houses’’ in different parts of north Bengal, especially in Parokata area in Alipurduar and Najiram and Majeherdabri areas of Tufanganj. The areas provide an escape route to the militants as they are not only close to the Assam border, but within striking distance of Bangladesh.
Alipurduar’s sub-divisional police officer Sumonjit Roy said Takura has confessed that he had supplied 18 AK-56 rifles to a KLO camp in south Bhutan.