The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tripura turns heat on Dhaka

Calcutta, Jan. 4: Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar today said the border areas of Tripura have become a terror hub because of the neglect of the northeastern state’s natural resources and the lack of development projects initiated by the Centre.

Sarkar said the biggest worry has been the emergence of al Qaida in the Northeast with the support from the NSCN (Khaplang), the Ulfa and other militant groups. “They are using the Northeast as a base to work their way into the heart of the country, using local militant groups as pawns,” he said.

Sarkar asked Bangladesh to hand over “terrorists” after dismantling their camps on its soil, saying it was difficult to believe that Dhaka was unaware of their presence.

Reiterating that “terrorists”, including those of al Qaida were present in Bangladesh, Sarkar said Pakistan’s ISI was networking with northeastern militant groups, which had set up over 50 camps in Bangladesh.

Sarkar said he had definite information that al Qaida activists were learning local dialects of northeastern states for infiltration.

Trans-border terrorism, with the support of Bangladesh, has rocked Tripura and the entire Northeast, he said in the city today.

“Bangladesh should immediately close down the 50-odd camps and hand over the terrorists to us. They should refrain from sponsoring terror activities right now,” Sarkar said.

The chief minister, during an informal talk with newspersons, admitted that the Indo-Bangla border in Tripura had turned into a terror hub. Bangladesh-sponsored militant groups have sneaked into Tripura and have been involved in abduction, murder and other nefarious activities, he asserted.

“They are sneaking out to their base camps located in Bangladesh and Myanmar. But, Bangladesh should know that aiding terror groups wouldn’t do any good to its cause. We want good neighbours, but not people who sponsor terrorist groups,” added the chief minister.

His government had made several efforts to clip the wings of terrorist groups, Sarkar said. These, he added, included banning the NLFT and shutting down several camps in and around Tripura.

“We have helped the Centre in every way by providing camp locations of all terrorist groups operating in and around Tripura. It is now up to them to act and close the camps located outside our border,” Sarkar said.

“We are trying to restore some peace in the area, but only serious development work and the tapping of natural resources, including the power sector, can help solve the problems in Tripura and the entire Northeast,” the chief minister said.

Sarkar lamented that, unlike Bengal, Tripura does not have even good roads. “The entire Northeast has been badly ignored by the Centre for several decades. Apart from Guwahati and Agartala, there are no decent airports. The railway link has also not expanded at all,” he said.

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