ULFA eyeing Bhutan again for setting base?

April 9th, 2008 - 4:32 pm ICT by admin  

Guwahati, April 9 (IANS) Separatists in India’s northeast may again become active in Bhutan. The Assam Police have seized a large cache of explosives from two people, one of who hails from Bhutan, authorities said Wednesday. Police Tuesday intercepted an auto-rickshaw at Rangia, near Guwahati, and stumbled upon 30 high-explosive grenades with an equal number of detonators brought in from Darranga Mela, a town in Assam, right on the border with Bhutan’s Samdrup Jongkhar district.

“One of the two people in the auto-rickshaw hailed from Samdrup Jongkhar. The cache was meant for delivery to ULFA militants in the western Nalbari district,” an Assam Police official said.

Police have confirmed that the duo arrested with the explosives were ULFA couriers. “Two ULFA militants were following the auto-rickshaw on a motor cycle but fled when the three-wheeler was intercepted by the police,” Deputy Inspector General of Police G.P. Singh said.

The seizure has raised speculation on whether the ULFA has set up fresh bases in Bhutan or along the heavily wooded Indo-Bhutan border area.

Formed in 1979, the ULFA has been fighting for an independent homeland through a hit-and-run bush war with security forces.

The ULFA and two other northeast Indian rebel groups, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), had several well-entrenched bases in Bhutan, complete with firing ranges and sports facilities.

However, in December 2003, the Royal Bhutan Army launched a military offensive, expelling up to 3,000 militants belonging to the ULFA and the two other groups.

Intelligence reports say the ULFA is trying to set up fresh bases in Bhutan after the group apparently soured ties with the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN-K that had bases in Myanmar.

The ULFA has all along had joint bases with the NSCN-K in Myanmar’s Sagaing division. Moreover, improved military ties between Yangon and New Delhi has come to make the ULFA cadres in Myanmar jittery.

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