‘Arms found in Bangladesh meant for Indian insurgent group’

June 9th, 2009 - 12:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 9 (IANS) Arms and explosives seized in 2003 and again in 2004 belonged to an Indian insurgent group using Bangladeshi territory, former top officials of Bangladesh’s National Services Intelligence (NSI) have told a court in Chittagong.
The haul in 2003 at Kahalu in Bogra district in northern Bangladesh had ammunition belonging to the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), an insurgent group in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, and being carried from one place to another in India through Bangladesh, said Major General (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury.

Chowdhury is a former director general of both the NSI and Directorate General of Field Intelligence (DGFI), the military intelligence body.

Removed from the army last year, he is now under probe for his alleged role in the 2004 arms haul case in Chittagong along with another former NSI chief, Brigadier General (retd) Abdur Rahim and other former functionaries.

The Daily Star newspaper Tuesday quoted Chowdhury as having told interrogators that as DGFI director his “understanding was that the ammunition and explosives seized at Kahalu belonged to an Indian insurgent group”.

The hauls in 2003 and 2004 indicate a pattern, experts say, of ULFA using Bangladeshi soil to carry out its operations. Dhaka has in the past denied this Indian charge.

After the 2004 haul, four ULFA operatives and their Bangladeshi accomplices were arrested and grilled by the Joint Interrogation Cell (JIC) at the DGFI.

While Chowdhury, Rahim and another key official Sahabuddin Ahmed, a former Bangladesh Air Force wing commander, have given their statements, another NSI official Major (retd) Liakat Hossain refused to give a statement to a Chittagong magistrate Monday.

He had earlier disclosed to interrogators vital information regarding the arms and ammunition seizures in Chittagong and Bogra, the newspaper said.

Liaqat was the official who supervised the movement of 10 truck loads of arms, ammunition and explosives brought from China in April 2004.

They were brought on a ship belonging to a firm owned by Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury, who is an influential lawmaker close to then prime minister Khaleda Zia.

Since Zia’s arch rival Shiekh Hasina came to power in January, the twin hauls are being probed on a day-to-day basis.

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