On Friday, Border Guards Bangladesh claimed that armed separatist terror groups from Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts had set up camps in the Indian state of Mizoram. It asked the Government of India to destroy these camps.
This claim was made in a press statement released by Bangladesh at the end of the 51st Director General level talks between India’s Border Security Force and Bangladesh’s Border Guards that were held in Guwahati, Assam.
“The BGB Director General expressed concern over the presence of armed regional separatist terrorist camps from the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh within the Indian state of Mizoram and requested for the destruction of these camps,” read the Bengali-language press release. “Referring to the Government of India’s ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ against terrorism, the BSF Director General assured that appropriate measures would be taken against those camps (if they exist).”
BSF officials, however, told BBC Bangla that earlier information provided by Bangladesh on terrorist hideouts turned out not to be true.
Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts has seen the existence of a separatist group called the Shanti Bahini, consisting mostly of Chakma, Marma and Tripuri tribal people, from the late 1970s. However, in 1997 the group laid down arms after an accord with the Bangladesh government in 1997.
Bangladesh has not clarified which group it was referring to in its statement.
The talks also saw Bangladesh repudiate claims that its citizens were illegally crossing over into India. “I think you need to revisit the perception that a large number of Bangladeshis are crossing into Assam,” said Shafeenul Islam, Director General of BGB, The Indian Express reported. “If you see the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh, you will find that we are on a steady uprising track. Now our GDP [per capita] is around $2,300. There is no reason for Bangladeshis to cross the border be it for jobs or for other reason.”
Bangladesh’s sudden public claim of separatists groups in Mizoram comes amidst speculation that Delhi-Dhaka ties have worsened over the past few years, driven partly by an Indian focus on alleged illegal migration from Bangladesh.