NEW DELHI, Feb 23 � With Bangladesh handing over a number of wanted insurgent leaders of the North-east including ULFA and NDFB militants to India, Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram described Dhaka�s cooperation as splendid.
�The cooperation extended by Bangladesh, especially after the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, took over, has been splendid,� Chidambaram said in Rajya Sabha during a Question Hour discussion.
Bangladesh has in the past couple of years turned over several top leaders of ULFA and NDFB, including chairmen of both the outfits, Arabinda Rajkhowa and Ranjan Daimary, besides scores of middle and lower level cadres to India. The handing over of the leaders made possible start of the elusive peace process with ULFA.
Replying to questions, Chidambaram said many leaders of the insurgent groups had found sanctuaries across the border. In that sense, a significant number of leaders from across the border are directing these groups and extending support. They also have training camps across the border, he added.
He was responding to a question by Rajiv Shukla, who asked how much support are the insurgent groups getting from across border? How much is the Government of Bangladesh cooperating with us in order to nab these people?
The Home Minister, however, candidly admitted existence of massive extortion rackets in North-east, where even government servants are forced to pay up.
Chidambaram said there are reports, which appear to confirm that there is extortion and even Government servants are not exempted.
�I am aware that there is a considerable degree of extortion and the Government servants are also not exempt. It is quite possible that public servants are also paying money to extortionists.� But he said he has no information that extortion demand was made to the Chief Minister.
Raising the issue, M. Venkaiah Naidu said in North-east even ministers, MLAs and activists of political parties are not spared. They have to pay monthly instalments to these underground organisations. He alleged that the Chief Minister of Manipur was given a threatening letter.
Earlier, Rajiv Shukla asked whether extortion activities were still going on and alleged that over Rs.100 crore is being collected every year from traders and transporters, and even from Government employees on the basis of their pay scales.
Participating in the discussion, Biswajeet Daimary asked whether the Railway Ministry has moved the Home Ministry seeking security cover for the trains running between Rangiya and Murkongselek. He said the train services have stopped because of lack of security cover.
In reply to a question about detention of a Chinese spy, Chidambaram said he is not aware of a case where the head of the Chinese Spy Bureau met with some ultra leaders. There was indeed a case of a Chinese lady who had met some of the insurgent leaders of the North-east. �But on investigation, we were not able to establish that she was a spy. She claimed to be a journalist. There was no evidence to point that she was a spy,� he said.