Shillong, April 13: The BSF today said the Ulfa might have finally begun pulling out of Bhutan, going by the steady flow of arms and ammunition into the Garo hills of Meghalaya through a relatively unknown riverine route from the Himalayan kingdom.
BSF inspector-general B.K. Dey told The Telegraph that the recovery of weapons “in large numbers” in the troubled Garo Hills was a “clear indication” that the Ulfa was shifting base from Bhutan to Meghalaya in the face of mounting pressure to quit that country.
National security adviser Brajesh Mishra had travelled to Thimphu recently to convince the royal government of Bhutan to begin a military offensive against Ulfa and NDFB militants holed up there. Though a decision on launching military operations has yet to be taken, there is reason to believe that Bhutan is becoming increasingly intolerant of militant activity in its territory.
Dey said the Ulfa had chosen a “nondescript riverine route” to transport its huge cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition from Bhutan to the Garo hills. “Sophisticated weapons are being placed on boats and river rafts, which flow downstream on the Brahmaputra and reach Dhubri. These are accumulated at Gachpara before being taken through dense forests to different parts of the Garo hills.”
Meghalaya police last week recovered two large consignments of arms and ammunition in the Phulbari area of the West Garo Hills. Some of these arms, bearing “digital markings”, were procured from Afghanistan, the police said.
Intelligence and BSF officials are almost certain that the bulk of the weapons were brought to Meghalaya through the Gadadhar river, which originates in the foothills of Bhutan and connects with the Brahmaputra in Dhubri district of Assam.
Das’ claims were corroborated by senior police and intelligence officials, who said the weapons could not have come through the usual land routes, not even via the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.