The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Intelligence alert on ISI operations
- South Bengal new haven for Pak agents, says IB

Calcutta, Sept. 20: The intelligence branch has sounded a fresh alarm on the increasing activities of Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) in south Bengal.

The IB submitted a report on ISI activities in the region to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee before the chief minister left for Delhi last Wednesday to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The intelligence alert assumes significance in the wake of the meeting three days ago between the home secretaries of India and Bangladesh on various issues, including militant training camps allegedly being run in the neighbouring country and cross-border infiltration. Dhaka has repeatedly denied allegations that it is harbouring Indian militants and that the ISI is operating from its territory.

According to the report, the ISI has roped in more than 5,500 people who are undergoing training in six different locations in Bangladesh. 'Most of these camps are operative in Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Chittagong.' said an intelligence officer.

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) deputy inspector-general D.P. Tarenia said: 'The report (on ISI activities) was drawn up by the IB. We at the CID supplied them with information.'

Intelligence sources said after security forces stepped up vigil in Tripura and north Bengal, ISI agents are using the southern riverine belt on the fringes of the Sunderbans to smuggle drugs and arms to Bengal and Orissa.

'The narcotics are mainly cocaine and brown sugar. The stuff is distributed to peddlers on the ISI rolls and sold to raise funds for 'operations'. The weapons are purchased through agents linked with militants in the Northeast, the People's War and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), which are active in pockets of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia and parts of Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh,' an official quoted the report as saying.

During a visit to the state early this month, Border Security Force director-general Ajay Raj Sharma had said his force had informed the Bengal government about the changing situation.

'We have strengthened our intelligence network to keep an eye on the situation. We are coordinating with the state and central intelligence agencies to gather more information,' Sharma had said.

The IB report has apparently mentioned Jambudwip in South 24-Parganas, about 150 km from Calcutta, as a new haven for the ISI.

An official said: 'Over the past year, ISI operatives and fishermen from the Sunderbans who frequent the island have had about 15 meetings. We have mentioned in the report that a bulk of the drugs smuggled into the state come through these fishermen.'

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