Bangladesh today categorically denied the presence of terrorist camps on its soil and instead, turned around to accuse India of nurturing 90 camps of anti-Bangladesh separatists.
Caught completely by surprise, India said, this was the first time it has heard about such a thing. The issue of terrorist camps came up on day one of the talks between Director Generals of Border Security Force and Bangladesh Rifles. Even as BSF chief Ajai Raj Sharma brought up the subject of ULFA terrorist camps in Bangladesh, BDR DG Major General Mohammad Jahangir Alam Chaudhary was ready with the oft-repeated stand — ‘‘There are no terrorist camps anywhere in Bangladesh. You tell us where they are and we will take action.’’
In fact, the tension between the two sides was there for all to see. As both DGs came out after a meeting with Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayanand, the BSF chief said talks were going on well and that India has already given details about the terrorist camps.
Before Sharma could say more, Chaudhary intervened and aggressively denied the presence of any camps. ‘‘You come with me. I will take you to all these places (where the camps are believed to be). If there is any camp, we will destroy it,’’ an agitated BDR chief told the mediapersons. And then, he charged that there are 90 camps of ‘‘anti-Bangladesh criminals’’ in India and that he will submit a list to his BSF counterpart on January 9, the last day of talks. Swami Chinmayanand said this was the first time he was hearing such a charge. ‘‘We have never heard of this before, either from our intelligence agencies or even from Bangladesh,’’ he said.
In fact, the minister said ‘‘Bangladesh should behave like a good neighbour like Bhutan and Myanmar and cooperate with us to establish peace in the North-East’’. He added that Bangladesh had been given details of all terrorist camps operating in their territory. ‘‘We have given them information about the camps, their location, how many people and what organisation. We have also given them proof, and it is their duty to take action,’’ he added.
The government has enough evidence of Bangladeshi involvement from intelligence agencies and interrogation reports of ULFA and NDFB leaders arrested following action by Bhutan, he said.
About Bangladeshi charge, he said, ‘‘Let them give us the details and we will ask the governments of states concerned to take action.’’ Sources in the Bangladeshi delegation said there were camps of Shanti Vahini, Priti group, Bongoshana and Bir Bongo — spreading communal tension in Bangladesh — based in Tripura and West Bengal. On some positive aspects of BSF-BDR talks, Chinmayanand said BDR has offered full cooperation in fencing work along the Tripura border. Joint patrolling, which the two sides had agreed upon during the last DG level meeting, was awaiting clearance from Bangladesh government, he added.