The Telegraph
Thursday , September 20 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bangla joins Ulfa hunt
- Anti-talks leader Drishti Rajkhowa feels the heat

Shillong, Sept. 19: Bangladeshi security forces have launched an intensive operation to track down Ulfa (anti-talks) leader Drishti Rajkhowa.

“Since the past week, the Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have conducted operations against Rajkhowa,” a BSF official said.

The official also claimed that the Ulfa leader was feeling the heat thanks to these raids. Rajkhowa alias Mohan Rabha allegedly operates in lower Assam and reportedly has links with the Meghalaya-based Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA).

In April this year, the GNLA and Rabha Viper Army (RVA) reportedly reinforced the Ulfa. It is suspected that the RVA was floated by Ulfa to get logistics support in Goalpara and Kamrup districts. The GNLA, meanwhile, would provide support in Garo hills.

Earlier, reports indicated that Rajkhowa had been confining himself to the dense jungles of Garo hills where the GNLA provided him shelter. Rajkhowa has always headed the 109 battalion of Ulfa and is known as a confidant of “commander-in-chief” Paresh Barua. In November last year, Barua promoted Rajkhowa to the rank of “deputy commander-in-chief” after Arabinda Rajkhowa and his followers came forward for peace talks with the Centre.

“The operations by the security forces in Bangladesh are a result of the co-ordinated border plans between the two sides (Indian and Bangladeshi border forces). We have made a lot of progress,” the official said. He also said co-operation between the BGB and the BSF has substantially improved.

Stating that surveillance along the border has been intensified, the official said real-time intelligence gathering has improved. The force has also increased the number of battalions in the border areas, the official added.

Yesterday, at a news conference, BSF inspector general Sudesh Kumar said the force has also involved civilians who live near the border to help manage the border.

“We are involving the public in border management because they are the permanent residents. We have also altered our border patrolling according to their views. At the same time, we are receiving a lot more feedback from the border population. Now, the information flow is very good. We want to make the people stakeholders in border management,” Kumar added.

To ensure effective border management, the BSF inspector-general has requested for an additional battalion to plug the gaps, which currently exist between one border outpost and the other like the stretch between Shella and Maheshkhola.