Maoists offer ULFA sanctuary in Nepal

With the Government of Bhutan threatening to initiate military action to flush out Indian militants holed up in the Himalayan kingdom, Maoist rebels of Nepal have extended an invitation to the Indian outfits, including the United Liberation Front Asom (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), to set up camps in their territory in Nepal, intelligence sources in Bhutan said. The ULFA, in return, would have to train Maoist cadres, the sources said. In response to the growing nexus between the Maoists and North-east militants, New Delhi, the sources said, was meanwhile planning to seal all passages to Nepal once the offensive began in Bhutan.

According to the information received here, the 'foreign affairs chief' of the Maoists in Nepal, C Gajural, had assured the ULFA leadership that it would provide three more camps to the outfit in eastern Nepal. The ULFA already has four camps in Nepal, with the support extended by the Maoists now serving as a lifeline even as their bases in Bhutan are threatened by possible army action.

According to the sources, a number of senior Maoist leaders recently met top leaders of the ULFA in north-western Bhutan, where they invited the outfits to come to Nepal in case Bhutan launched an offensive against them. “We have definite information that in case the Bhutanese monarch decides to flush out militant hideouts from Bhutan, the militants will go to Nepal as the Maoists have already extended support to the outfits,” an intelligence official said. The move to accommodate North-east ultras in Maoist-controlled areas of Nepal had been under way for some time now, the sources said. Gajural had met ULFA supremo Paresh Baruah, its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, and KLO spokesperson Sunil Biswas near Atari market in the Panchtar district of Nepal in October last year to discuss the offer, the sources said.

In return for the favour, the ULFA had in the past year-and-a-half alone trained more than 3,000 new recruits of the Maoists with their instructors providing them two-week courses. The Gorkha Liberation Tiger Force (GLTF) operating in Darjeeling has also agreed to train Maoist cadres at Arjandara in the Jhapa district of Nepal. According to the sources, the GLTF would in return also get two camps as in the case of the ULFA, and receive aid in smuggling arms across the Siliguri corridor.

By Bijoy Shankar Handique