M A I N   N E W S

Bhutan cracks down on Indian insurgents
Assam, West Bengal told to seal borders

New Delhi, December 15
Bhutan today launched military action against Indian insurgent groups operating from camps in that country, a move strongly supported by India.

Announcing launching of the operation by Bhutan, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha told Parliament: “We have been informed by the Royal Government of Bhutan that they have launched today military action against Indian insurgent groups operating from camps in that country”.

The Government of India “strongly supports this action,” he said adding that Bhutanese King Jigme Singye Wangchuk had telephonically informed Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the impending action on December 13.

India has repeatedly conveyed to Bhutan its serious concerns over the activities of insurgent groups like the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and KLO which had established camps inside that country and were carrying out arms training of their cadres for anti-India operations.

Making suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Mr Sinha said Mr Vajpayee conveyed to Wangchuk that the Government and people of India “stand firmly and solidly” behind the Bhutan Government at this critical juncture and “would provide all necessary support as requested, till the task is completed”.

He said the Indian Army was also taking “necessary measures” to intercept movement of militants from Bhutan into India.

The Centre, Sinha said, had advised the Assam and West Bengal governments to “remain alert to deal with the situation arising out of this action, including sealing the borders and maintaining peace”.

Sinha said Bhutan had always assured New Delhi that it would not allow its territory to be used for activities inimical to India’s interest.

“The launch of operations against Indian insurgent groups in Bhutan has struck a blow against terrorism and terrorist activities in our entire region,” he said.

Sinha said the action against Indian insurgent groups in Bhutan would prevent further loss of innocent lives by the mindless acts of violence perpetrated by these terrorists.

“It will promote peace, stability and security in the region and further cement the strong friendship and cooperation between India and Bhutan,” he said.

In the Rajya Sabha, Sinha said the military action of Bhutan was not restricted to any one particular group but was targeted at all anti-India insurgent groups, including ULFA and KLO.

“The action started this morning and it is too early to judge the outcome... We have alerted our security forces. The Army will intercept movement of insurgents (from Bhutan) to India... Army is there in full strength,” he said.

The Centre is also in close contact with West Bengal and Assam governments. “Together we are trying to keep the borders sealed.”

Earlier, elders cutting across party lines welcomed the action of Royal Government of Bhutan.

Manmohan Singh (Cong) said Bhutan was being used by insurgent groups to carry out nefarious activities in various parts of India.

His party colleague Pranab Mukherjee wanted the Centre to provide all logistic and other support to West Bengal and Assam governments to counter movement of insurgents from Bhutan.

Sinha said: “We all need to applaud Bhutan and King of Bhutan who has decided to move against anti-India insurgents.”

He said “We had alerted our security forces to prevent eastward or southward movement (of insurgents).

“We have discussed (anti-India insurgency) with Bhutan. We have tried to take care of all their concerns”. — PTI

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