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'West Bengal, transit route for militants'

'West Bengal, transit route for militants'

Author: Special Correspondent
Publication: The Hindu
Date: Aug 5, 2008
URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2008/08/05/stories/2008080554440700.htm

West Bengal is being increasingly used as a transit route by operatives of militant outfits sneaking in through its borders with Bangladesh and Nepal and heading for different parts of the country, according to Army intelligence.

To compound matters there are reports of a rise in the number of sleeper cells in its districts adjoining the State's borders with these two countries. They work for various militant outfits and facilitate the entry of militants into the country.

Some of this information related to the movement of militants was exchanged with the civil administration at a civil-military liaison meet held in the city last week, significant at a time when security arrangements have been reinforced across the State in the aftermath of the blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

The need for greater sharing of intelligence between the Army and the State police in matters concerning militant activity and weeding out sleeper cells, mainly along the State's borders, was underlined at the meeting, a source in the military establishment told The Hindu here on Monday.

Interrogations by the State's Criminal Investigation Department of the two men, suspected to be operatives of the Laskar-e-Taiba arrested last week in the State's Murshidabad district that shares a border with Bangladesh, have only confirmed the existence of several sleeper cells in the State. While one of the men apprehended was a cloth merchant, the other was a teacher in a local school.

The need to intensify vigil against those not necessarily planning sabotage but working towards "subverting the minds of the local people" in the border areas cannot be overstated, the source said. They are locals, provide shelter to militants sneaking into the State and act as a go-between between the latter and their associates in different parts of the country, he added.

The State government has information that different militant outfits funded and trained by foreign intelligence agencies are using West Bengal's borders with Nepal and Bangladesh to their advantage. These agencies are also suspected to be involved in transporting weapons and explosives into the country.

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