Jan. 3: Five National Liberation Front of Tripura militants were shot dead by their comrades after a rebellion at one of the many camps the banned outfit runs in Bangladesh. News of the killings, which occurred at the end of December, came to light today.
Elsewhere, the Bangladesh Rifles, in the midst of a crackdown on Northeast insurgents sheltered in that country, was reported to have detained 34 suspected United Liberation Front of Asom rebels in Dhaka.
However, this report was swiftly denied by the Bangladesh home ministry, which said the account had been “fabricated to strain the friendly relations between Bangladesh and India”. Dhaka’s official position is that there are no militant camps on its soil and it has instead sought to portray the ongoing crackdown as one aimed at flushing out criminals.
Intelligence sources today said the six NLFT militants who shot dead their colleagues had later sneaked across the international border into West Tripura’s Khowai subdivision through Bogabil and Khengrabari. The fleeing militants have been trying to contact security forces in order to surrender.
Sources said they were part of a 17-member group staying at the outfit’s base camp in Dudhpatil in Bangladesh’s Habiganj district. The six rebels, led by Karnajay Debbarma, were disillusioned with life on the run in the jungles and planned to surrender.
But the NLFT leadership came to know of their plans. The rebels responded by shooting dead the militants and fled base on December 31. “The fleeing militants have been moving in the jungles of Tripura ever since and (are) trying to contact police or paramilitary forces to lay down arms,” the sources add.
Dhaka’s Ittefaq and Jugantar dailies today reported that suspected Ulfa rebels had been detained in the Bangladesh capital on Friday night. The raids were carried out after four strangers injured in a bomb blast in Mohammadpur on Thursday went to the state-run Suhrawardy Hospital, raising the doctors’ suspicions.
Police detectives followed the injured men’s trail and raided six houses on Friday, allegedly netting the Ulfa members. But the home ministry rejected the reports as false.
India has chosen to carefully watch Bangladesh’s drive against the Northeast insurgents along the India border before deciding if it represents a genuine shift in Dhaka’s policy.
Highly placed sources in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government believe a real change of tack can come about only if the Saarc summit which starts tomorrow results in better India-Pakistan relations. “If India and Pakistan, the two biggest nations in the region continue their engagement and repair ties, the situation in the entire region will improve,' a senior home ministry official said.
North Block believes Pakistan is the source of the anti-India sentiments that drive smaller nations like Bangladesh. It reckons that if Delhi and Islamabad can improve relations, anti-India feelings and support for insurgents will diminish.