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Tough signal for Zia

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  • Published 11.03.06

New Delhi, March 11: Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is likely to encounter some plain-speaking when she arrives in India on March 20 for a three-day state visit.

Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told a news conference here today: “The Bangladesh government is encouraging two kinds of terrorism. There are religious fundamentalist groups functioning from within Bangladesh. There are also groups like Ulfa and KLO, which have taken shelter there. The Prime Minister told me he will talk to the Bangladesh Prime Minister when she comes here.”

To drive home the point, India will give Khaleda evidence of Bangladeshi links to the three big terror attacks in recent times ? at Ayodhya in July, in Delhi in October and in Varanasi this week.

A senior home ministry official said names of Bangladeshis working for the militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba will be part of the proof presented before her.

Intelligence sources said their investigations into Tuesday’s serial blasts in Varanasi point to strong Bangladeshi links.

After fighting Pakistan-sponsored terrorism with US help, India is now determined to slam the brakes on terrorism out of Bangladesh and will mince no words during meetings with Khaleda, a home ministry official said.

Apart from terrorism, India would also press hard on border fencing and will ask Bangladesh to agree to a fence on the zero line instead of insisting on a gap of at least 150 yards.

But after the brickbats, there will be some bouquets too. India is likely to sign a revised trade agreement that will give Bangladesh some parity. Delhi has decided in principle to offer better terms for trade and market accessibility to Bangladesh, which has an annual trade deficit of about $1.5 billion with India, sources said.

“There are chances that India will heed Bangladesh’s long-standing demand to reduce the trade imbalance, and allow entry for Bangladeshi products by removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers. But it will all hinge on other important issues relating to terrorism, boundary, illegal migration and smuggling of arms and narcotics,” a home ministry official said.