The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha asks for more flights

New Delhi, Aug. 13: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met L.K. Advani this morning to discuss the security situation in Bengal and make two requests.

The chief minister, who was here for a CPM politburo meeting, took the opportunity to exchange notes with the deputy Prime Minister. The leaders have an excellent rapport despite being on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

“I discussed the law and order situation in border areas. I have also submitted two memorandums to the deputy Prime Minister,” Bhattacharjee said.

The chief minister urged Advani to ensure that Calcutta gets more international flights. He also wants Calcutta port to be connected to National Highway 34, which runs from behind the city’s airport and links the Northeastern states to Calcutta. The deputy Prime Minister has agreed to consider the request.

Asked to elaborate on his meeting with Advani, the chief minister said he had discussed “the situation along the Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan borders”.

Advani said the situation along the eastern border areas was “grave, but not as bad as in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Asked if the National Democratic Alliance fact-finding team’s report on the recent panchayat elections was discussed, the BJP leader said: “I did not refer to it.”

The recently-submitted NDA report indicted the Bengal administration and slammed the CPM’s alleged terrorising of Opposition candidates and voters.

Bhattacharjee has asked for more paramilitary forces from the Centre. Advani has forwarded the request to Union home secretary . Gopalswami.

Militants belonging to the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, which is seeking a separate state, have posed a serious threat to state forces of late. The militants are working in tandem with the United Liberation Front of Asom, Bodo organisations and small separatist outfits in the Northeast, often holding joint training sessions. KLO and Ulfa have given a joint call to boycott Independence Day celebrations.

Since the militants are known to hold camps in Bhutan, Bhattacharjee and his Assam counterpart Tarun Gogoi have demanded firm action against the rebels. They have urged the Centre to take up the matter with Bhutan.

Relations between Bengal and the Centre have improved since Bhattacharjee assumed office.

For a change, the state and Centre are in sync.

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