Dhaka, Increasing incidents of terrorism in India’s northeast attributed to the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) have revived the exchange of claims and counter-claims between India and Bangladesh.
Dhaka has again rejected claims by Indian officials about ULFA leaders and activists being nourished on Bangladeshi soil. It has repeated the “principled position of the Bangladesh government, reiterated time and again, that the country does not allow its territory to be used in any activities inimical to the interests of India. There would be no wavering from that stance”.
A foreign office spokesperson also expressed “disappointment” at reports published in a section of Indian newspapers suggesting that ULFA was being nourished in Bangladesh and that its government was not fully cooperative, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency said Wednesday.
The spokesperson said this was deeply disappointing because the statements quoting senior Indian officials were “not reflective of the reality on the ground”, New Age newspaper added.
Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed’s interim government, in office since Jan 12, has reiterated its resolve to cooperate with India on this score.
India claims that many top ULFA leaders live in Dhaka and have developed business interests, while their activists work from camps along the Bangladesh border, allegedly with the help of Bangladeshi intelligence bodies and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
Among the ULFA leaders allegedly operating from Dhaka are its chief Arabinda Rajkhowa and the chief of the militant wing, Paresh Barua. They travel outside Bangladesh using multiple passports.
Anup Chetia, a key ULFA leader, was detained on return from Bangkok on the ground that he had a fake passport. He served a prison term, but is at large after being released. This was after a human rights body, headed by the wife of a minister in the former government of Begum Khaleda Zia attempted to get his custody, and India protested.
At bilateral talks that take place at ministerial and official levels, India has submitted a list of business establishments run by ULFA leaders and of close to 200 ULFA camps being run by the outfit.
Dhaka has responded by denying their existence and submitting a counter list of “anti-Bangladesh elements” supposed to be operating in India.
ULFA has been engaged in violence, including explosions across northeastern India, choosing national holidays and major occasions to highlight its demands.
These demands include talks, for which it wants the government of India to ‘secure’ the ‘release’ of the leaders that India claims operate from Bangladesh.