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Al Qaeda threat in Assam should be taken seriously: Shekhatkar

By R Dutta Choudhury
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GUWAHATI, Sept 14 � The threat from Al Qaeda should be taken very seriously as Assam, because of presence of a large number of illegal migrants, is sitting on a volcano, which can erupt at any moment, warned noted security analyst and former GOC of the 4 Corps of the Army, Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekhatkar.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar pointed out that major demographic changes are taking place in some districts of Assam because of unabated infiltration of foreigners and a section of the migrants may turn out to be supporters of outfits like Al Qaeda. �From my experience in dealing with militancy and terrorism, I can say that such an outfit only needs support of three to four per cent of people to survive and because of presence of illegal migrants, outfits like Al Qaeda will not find it difficult to gather support of some people to sustain,� he pointed out.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar further said that outfits like the Al Qaeda always plan at least ten years ahead and no one can say whether some sleeper cells of the outfit are active in Assam or not. He pointed out that the entire world was taken by surprise when the ISIS emerged in a big way in Syria and Iraq. The ISIS definitely did not emerge in a single day and the outfit must have been making preparations for a long time before it decided to strike in Iraq in a big way, occupying almost half of the country, he said. Similarly, the Al Qaeda must have tested the ground for some time before making the threat to expand to Assam, he said.

The former Army officer said that the ISIS has been expanding its bases in the Arabian countries and the outfit has become very rich by occupying oil refineries and banks, while it does not have shortage of sophisticated weapons. The expansion of the ISIS has hurt the Al Qaeda and it needs to expand bases. That is why, the Al Qaeda has been trying to expand to different parts of India including Assam, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Moreover, the American Army is scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan from next year, which will definitely give a boost to the Al Qaeda, he said.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar said the Rohongia Muslims in Myanmar are under attack, while at least 20 per cent of people of Bangladesh still harbour anti-India feelings. Under the circumstances, outfits like the Al Qaeda would be able to gather support in such areas surrounding the North Eastern region of Assam. He also warned that the Barak Valley becoming the first target of the outfits like Al Qaeda cannot be ruled out as the valley can be cut off by cutting off one railway line and three roads.

On his suggestions to deal with the situation, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that the political parties should immediately stop patronizing the illegal migrants to create vote banks. He said the Government should stop encouraging infiltration and steps should be taken to detect and deport the illegal migrants. The intelligence network should be revamped and any effort to radicalisation of the society should be prevented. A close watch should be maintained to ascertain whether any organisation or individual is receiving foreign funds.

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Al Qaeda threat in Assam should be taken seriously: Shekhatkar

GUWAHATI, Sept 14 � The threat from Al Qaeda should be taken very seriously as Assam, because of presence of a large number of illegal migrants, is sitting on a volcano, which can erupt at any moment, warned noted security analyst and former GOC of the 4 Corps of the Army, Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekhatkar.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar pointed out that major demographic changes are taking place in some districts of Assam because of unabated infiltration of foreigners and a section of the migrants may turn out to be supporters of outfits like Al Qaeda. �From my experience in dealing with militancy and terrorism, I can say that such an outfit only needs support of three to four per cent of people to survive and because of presence of illegal migrants, outfits like Al Qaeda will not find it difficult to gather support of some people to sustain,� he pointed out.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar further said that outfits like the Al Qaeda always plan at least ten years ahead and no one can say whether some sleeper cells of the outfit are active in Assam or not. He pointed out that the entire world was taken by surprise when the ISIS emerged in a big way in Syria and Iraq. The ISIS definitely did not emerge in a single day and the outfit must have been making preparations for a long time before it decided to strike in Iraq in a big way, occupying almost half of the country, he said. Similarly, the Al Qaeda must have tested the ground for some time before making the threat to expand to Assam, he said.

The former Army officer said that the ISIS has been expanding its bases in the Arabian countries and the outfit has become very rich by occupying oil refineries and banks, while it does not have shortage of sophisticated weapons. The expansion of the ISIS has hurt the Al Qaeda and it needs to expand bases. That is why, the Al Qaeda has been trying to expand to different parts of India including Assam, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Moreover, the American Army is scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan from next year, which will definitely give a boost to the Al Qaeda, he said.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar said the Rohongia Muslims in Myanmar are under attack, while at least 20 per cent of people of Bangladesh still harbour anti-India feelings. Under the circumstances, outfits like the Al Qaeda would be able to gather support in such areas surrounding the North Eastern region of Assam. He also warned that the Barak Valley becoming the first target of the outfits like Al Qaeda cannot be ruled out as the valley can be cut off by cutting off one railway line and three roads.

On his suggestions to deal with the situation, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that the political parties should immediately stop patronizing the illegal migrants to create vote banks. He said the Government should stop encouraging infiltration and steps should be taken to detect and deport the illegal migrants. The intelligence network should be revamped and any effort to radicalisation of the society should be prevented. A close watch should be maintained to ascertain whether any organisation or individual is receiving foreign funds.