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India and Bangladesh tighten security ties

- Home secretary-level talks from October 15

New Delhi, Oct. 5: Illegal immigration and resurgence of Northeast militant groups in Bangladesh will feature at the home secretary-level talks in Dhaka from October 15.

Union home secretary R.K. Singh, who officials said is likely to be in Dhaka around October 15, is also likely to take up deportation of Ulfa leader Anup Chetia during his visit. Chetia’s deportation can change the texture of talks with the outfit’s pro-talks group and alter the image of his protégé, Paresh Barua.

This will be the fourth high-profile meeting between India and Bangladesh. The two countries have agreed to discuss real-time information-sharing mechanisms and a robust border coordination plan.

Yesterday, a director-general level meeting between the Narcotics Control Bureau and Bangladesh’s Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) decided to curb drug smuggling.

The seizure of synthetic drugs has increased more than 10-fold in four years. “There is a growing use of synthetic drugs of late and smuggling is more from India to Bangladesh,” Bangladesh DNC chief, Mohammed Iqbal said. India’s NCB director-general Ajay Chadha said vulnerable points in Assam, Tripura and West Bengal had been identified and secured.

On Wednesday, army chief Gen. Bikram Singh called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and also met Bangladesh army chief Gen. Iqbal Karim Bhuiyan.

Last week, BSF director-general U.K. Bansal was in Dhaka to discuss the comprehensive border management plan, with an eye on the border along Tripura and West Bengal. A Bangladeshi delegation had also visited New Delhi recently.

In Dhaka, the BSF pressed the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) for action against Northeast militants who have hideouts in that country. These include the Biswamohan Debbarma faction of the National Liberation Front of Tripura, the All Tripura Tiger Force, the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) and Ulfa. “We have given them a list of 40 hideouts,” a senior BSF officer said.

Nehchal Sandhu, director of Intelligence Bureau, had pointed out at a recently concluded conference of directors-general that militants were regrouping in Bangladesh after facing pressure in Myanmar. Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua and NDFB (Daimary) leader I.K. Songbijit remain in Myanmar.

Security agencies believe that time is short and the strategic cooperation achieved between the two sides needs to be crystallised at least on security issues. “We have a window of one year before Bangladesh goes to the polls,” a source said. One of the pressing issues is exchange of enclaves, agreed upon by both the countries during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in September last year.

The BSF and BGB will not only cooperate among themselves but also with the two countries’ narcotics bureaux.

Besides illegal migration, which has powerful political implications especially in Assam, and existence of militant camps in Chittagong Hill Tracts, India’s concerns include fake currency notes.

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