Coordinated operations are being planned on either side of the India and Bangladesh border to rescue three workers abducted by suspected National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT-BM) insurgents and Indian police and intelligence agencies are in touch with their Bangladeshi counterparts on the same, Tripura Police said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement marked a departure from an earlier one which said special operations were being planned across the Indian line to rescue the fencing workers.
The fresh statement came 48 hours after the workers, engaged to erect barbed wire fence along an unfenced patch of the international border in Tripura’s Dhalai district, 90 Km from Agartala, were abducted at gunpoint by suspected cadres of the outlawed outfit on Monday.
India and Bangladesh share a 4,096 km long semi-porous border, of which Tripura accounts for 856 km. Fencing work is currently in progress in patches of the border areas in Sepahijala, Dhalai and South Tripura districts, including Sabroom, the southernmost tip of the state.
Assistant Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Subrata Chakraborty issued a revised statement on Wednesday, clarifying his earlier remark that “…special operations are being launched across the border to recover the kidnapped persons”.
The revised statement said special operations are being planned in a coordinated manner, as part of which the Indian forces would operate within its territory. “Our sister agencies in India are in touch with Bangladesh authorities for help in the rescue of the kidnapped persons”, the statement said.
The state police, meanwhile, arrested three ‘over ground workers’ of NLFT –Pathan Mohan Tripura (38), Jatindra Tripura (37) and Baishyajoy Tripura (38). All hail from Malda Kumar Parta where the abduction took place.
They were brought it for questioning and later arrested after being found involved in the kidnapping of the three NPCC workers, the police statement said.
Assistant Inspector General (DIG) Subrata Chakraborty had earlier said Subrata Debnath, Ganamohan Tripura and Subhash Bhowmik –engaged in border fencing work between Malda Kumar Para and Hariamoni Para villages of Ambassa sub-division, barely 100 metres from the international border, were abducted by NLFT ultras on Monday.
He also said the abducted trio was suspected to have been taken to Bangladesh. The abduction took place between border pillars 2277 and 2278, guarded by Biswas BOP, an outpost of the Border Security Force (BSF). The spot adjoins the Khagrachari district of Bangladesh on the other side.
Formed in March 12, 1989 with an aim to make Tripura a sovereign territory, the insurgent outfit was proscribed in 1997 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and later under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). The outfit was believed to have significantly weakened after 88 members broke away and laid down arms before the government in August 2019, pledging to abjure violence.
However, a small faction of the outfit continues to be active. According to intelligence operatives, it is operating from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and adjoining areas, across the border.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which has records of the outfit’s insurgent activities, the NLFT was responsible for 317 incidents of violence between 2005 and 2015 that claimed the lives of 28 security personnel and 62 civilians.
Peace talks with the outfit were initiated in 2015 and there has been no incident attributed to the NLFT since 2016. Intelligence agencies had earlier informed that not many cadres were left in the group after 88 of them surrendered in 2019.
Earlier this month, IG, BSF, Tripura Frontiers Sushanta Kumar Nath held talks with Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) on collaborative efforts to curb trans-border crimes and border violation. Building a single row fence along the Indo-Bangla international boundary and Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) also figured in talks at the two-day IG level conference in Agartala.