AFTER YEARS of persuasion by the Government of India, Bangladesh Government has finally initiated moves to deal with anti-India forces, which may give a tough time to the leaders of the militant groups using the territory of the neighbouring country as safe haven for years. Bangladesh Government recently started a crackdown on those involved in the arms smuggling case of 2004 and it is reported that the commander-in-chief of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Paresh Baruah was forced to escape from that country to take shelter in the Yunan province of China following the crackdown. Way back in 2004, shiploads of arms and ammunition were seized in Bangladesh and though the Government of India has been seeking the detailed reports of the investigations into the incident for years, only recently, the Government of that country launched the crackdown and arrested even former intelligence officials, which exposed the nexus of the Government agencies and militants taking shelter in Bangladesh. If the reports of Paresh Baruah’s escape from Bangladesh are proved to be correct, the ULFA may face serious problems in the days to come as for years, the leaders of the militant outfit have been carrying out anti-India activities from their safe sanctuaries in the neighbouring country. The crackdown and the arrests of former intelligence officials will also act as a deterrent for other Government functionaries, who might be assisting the militant groups and other anti-India forces and it is hard to believe that the militants will be able to survive in Bangladesh without direct or indirect assistance from any Government functionary.
In fact, the hopes of Government of India for receiving help from Bangladesh to deal with the problem of militancy soared after the Awami League Government came to power last year. It was during the previous tenure of the Awami League Government that the ULFA was forced to shift its headquarter from Bangladesh to Bhutan and even the bank accounts of the militant group were seized. But till now, even after the Awami League Government assumed charge, no action has been taken against the leaders of the militant groups taking shelter in that country and Paresh Baruah was forced to shift his base only after the crackdown on those involved in the arms smuggling case. The Bangladesh Government has not yet given any assurance in black and white on handing over ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia to India despite repeated requests by the Government of India. However, on the positive side, the Bangladesh Government has accepted India’s proposal for creating a joint task force for dealing with militants and if the force comes into being, sharing of intelligence between the security forces of both the countries will improve and make life hard for the militants. But under the present circumstances, with the Government of Bangladesh plagued by its own problems, creation of the joint task force may take some time giving enough time to the militants taking shelter in that country to relocate to safer places. #
First published in The Assam Tribune, editorial, June 5, 2009