India may tell Bangla to crack down on ultras


– Bowing to pressure India is likely to ask Bangladesh to crack down on the Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs), with New Delhi deciding to rush External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee to Dhaka later this month. Highly placed sources said the External Affairs Minister has a two-point agenda. He would be taking up the issue of shelter being enjoyed by the North-East militants and urgent need to mount a crackdown, besides cross border trade, sources added.

Mukehrejee is likely to seek to expulsion of select ULFA and NDFB leaders including Anup Chetia, Arabinda Rajkhowa, Paresh Barua and Ranjan Daimary, said said.

India and Dhaka does not have an extradition treaty and hence New Delhi is insisting on handing over the militant leaders.

India is unlikely to send any representative to Dhaka to attend the swearing – in ceremony of Sheikh Hasina, tentatively scheduled on January 5. Instead Mukherjee is going towards later part of January to do some plain speaking.

However, India is unlikely to talk tough at this stage, sources clarified, adding that New Delhi wants the new government to settle down first. The date for Mukherjee’s visit has not been firmed up because the new government is yet to take over charge in Dhaka, sources said.

The recent incidents of blasts in Assam and the emerging links of involvement of the fundamentalist elements based across the border has led the North Eastern States to mount pressure on the Centre to prevail upon Dhaka to end the free run enjoyed by the militants.

Though Mukherjee is going to seek the expulsion of the militant leaders, sources in the Home Ministry said they are not hopeful of securing the custody of any one of the top guns of ULFA and NDFB.

Reports with the Centre suggested that ahead of the December 29 polls, top leaders of ULFA, Arabinda Rajkhowa, Paresh Baruah and Raju Baruah left Bangladesh for Thailand. They are now suspected to be holed somewhere in South East Asia.

Intelligence inputs suggest that the ULFA leaders have been shuttling between Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar and East Timor. Ranjan Daimary for instance has reportedly bought some property in East Timor.

India, meanwhile, has adopted several measures to seal the Indo-Bangladesh border in the aftermath of spiralling violence in Assam. The Ministry of Home Affairs decided to replace fencing under Phase-I along Indo-Bangladesh border. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved extension of time for this project up to March 31, 2010.

Sources said in pursuance of the decision of the Government to replace the entire 861 Km of fencing constructed under Phase-I in West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya, which got damaged due to adverse climatic conditions and repeated submergence. At least 364 Km of fencing has been replaced so far, sources said.