The Indian government is keenly waiting for positive follow-up actions from its Bangladesh counterpart on rooting out the 66 “transit camps” of the militant groups in the northeast region. A detailed list of the camps and militant groups occupying them had been furnished by S.K. Srivastava, Inspector General of Border Security Force (Assam Frontier), on March 9 at Shillong, during the three-day bi-annual coordination meeting with Brigadier General Habirbul Karim — leader of the Border Guard Bangladesh team.

The Indian government has been maintaining that there were 198 militant-organisation sanctuaries in Bangladesh’s northeast region. Indian intelligence agencies have not agreed with the oversimplification of the Bangladesh government that all northeast militant camps had been closed down.  

In the past, Anup Chetia, a leader of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), was nabbed and incarcerated. More recently, R.K.Sanayaima, chairman of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), was nabbed while he was driving a jeep in a locality of Manipuri settlers. The official version was that Sanayaima was arrested along the Indo-Nepal border while he was trying to flee the country.

The army analysis is that foreign sanctuary is one of the factors influencing the armed movement in the northeast region. From the very beginning, the erstwhile East Pakistan had been a safe sanctuary for insurgents from Manipur. Since the 4096-km-long India-Bangladesh border is virtually unpoliced, militants find it comparatively easier to use for safe passage into Bangladesh.

According to Indian intelligence, insurgents from the major northeastern underground organizations, including those engaged in the peace process, have camps in Bangladesh and some wanted leaders are bivouacking there.

In the past, insurgents could enter Bangladesh undetected via Tripura. But they had stopped using this short cut following incidents of lynching of militants by Bengali villagers. As a result, they have been using the mountains of Mizoram to enter Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. On one occasion, the army intercepted about 300 insurgents coming back from Bangladesh with weapons, and claimed to have killed several insurgents in the ensuing gun-battle which lasted for several days.

Post the military crackdowns launched by the Bangladeshi Rifles personnel, most of the insurgents have shifted their camps to the no man’s land zone along the Manipur-Myanmar border. It was believed that some mountains in Manipur were used as training camps. But the army had claimed that most of the mountains in Churachandpur and Chandel districts had been cleared of militant camps.

Sources said that Indian intelligence agencies were monitoring army operations to root out these camps in Bangladesh.