Talks with Bhutan for coordited operation

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, January 4: Talks are on with Bhutan at the highest–level for a possible “coordited” operation against the NDFB(S).

A senior official today said it might take a few days for the discussions to yield results on the ground.

Though India is not planning any joint crackdown in Bhutan as of now, it wants the Himalayan kingdom to back–up the operations launched in Assam.

“Generally, the NDFB(S) militants, after carrying out an attack in the State – particularly in the districts of Kokrajhar and Chirang – tend to cross over to Bhutan and thus become out–of–reach of Indian security forces,” said an official in the union home ministry.

“The situation is similar in the Assam–Aruchal border. The NDFB(S) has a number of shelters in the Aruchal side of the Assam border,” the official said adding that, “Unless Bhutan helps, it will be difficult to tackle the militants.”

“Talks are on at the highest level. You will see the results on ground in a few days,” the ministry official said.

A source in the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), which guards the Indo–Bhutan border, said the NDFB(S) do not have any permanent camp in the neighbouring country, but they have shelters. “The militants have developed good relations with some villagers in the Bhutan side of the border. They provide them shelter,” the SSB personnel said.

Assam Police say that before the massacre was carried out, the NDFB(S) had around 80 to 100 hardcore cadres in the State. However, now most of them are on the run in the wake of the stepped up operations. A good chunk of them, including the mastermind of the attacks, the outfit’s deputy chief G Bidai, is believed to have crossed over to Bhutan.

The 350–km Indo–Bhutan border has long stretches of dense forests and lacks infrastructure, particularly motorable roads, making it easier for the rebels to evade the security forces.

Before the operation All Clear in Bhutan in 2003, the NDFB had around 12 camps in southern Bhutan. A year later, Bhutan had handed over the head of the NDFB’s ’central headquarters’, Lt B Udang alias Udang KR Brahma to the Indian authorities.

Prior to its dislodgment from Bhutan, the outfit was reported to have established working relationship with certain elements in Bhutan. Several Bhutanese officials were reported to have visited the training camps located inside Bhutan and have been alleged to openly aiding the NDFB cadres.

The activities of anti–talks NDFB militants increased significantly in Bhutan after Bangladesh ceased to be a safe haven for northeast militant groups after Sheikh Hasi became the prime minister of the country.

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