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Bangla terrorists using dry riverbeds to infiltrate into India
SUSENJIT GUHA  India-Bangladesh border | 29th Nov 2014

Sathkhira in Bangladesh is just across the dried Sonai river.

Terrorist groups are exploiting several poorly patrolled stretches of India's border with Bangladesh in West Bengal to infiltrate into Indian territory, where local contacts give them refuge and help them procure fake identification documents. Armed with this, these groups fan out to various districts.

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM) terrorists from Bangladesh are using the parched portions of the Sonai riverbed, near the border hamlets of Amudia and Hakimpur in North 24 Parganas district, to infiltrate into India in the middle of the night.

People are also sneaking in through Jhaudanga in North 24 Parganas' Gaighata, where the trans-boundary Ichamati river is little more than a rivulet for most of the year and can be waded through.

The villages are virtually hemmed in by the long and winding Border Main Road, manned by the Border Security Force, but the personnel required to patrol the porous entry and exit points are grossly inadequate. Jawans are left to guard stretches of 0.5 to 1 km each. The presence of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on the other side is thin at these points, and infiltrators can just walk through the riverbed.

Across the border lies the Bangladeshi district of Satkhira, known as a hub of radical Islamist groups. Last year, Bangladesh police and para-military forces razed to the ground houses of some Jamaat leaders who had virtually insulated Satkhira from the rest of Bangladesh in a bid to enforce Islamic rule. Following the crackdown and the increased vigilance, JUM cadre are finding safe sanctuary in West Bengal.Image 2nd

Once inside India, the terrorists can get fake voter ID cards, PAN cards, Aadhar cards and driving licences for about Rs 3,000 within a space of two hours, thanks to help from local contacts.

Armed with these documents, they then reach the nearby Bashirhat town, and enclaves in Nadia and Murshidabad districts. On Kolkata's outskirts, preferable hideouts are Rajarhat and a few densely populated neighbourhoods close to the airport, where there is a sizable Bengali speaking Muslim population.

The police arrested a few fake ID racketeers recently in Barasat and Rajarhat to find that they were operating for the last two years and were "arranging" identification cards for about 80-90 Bangladeshi infiltrators every month.Image 3rd

A fake SIM card racket was also busted at Rajarhat, where photocopies of Indian nationals' documents were used to create fake supporting documents and get new phone connections for the infiltrators. Fake rubber stamps of the Regional Transport Officer (RTO) and state transport secretary Alapan Bandhopadyay were also recovered.

JUM posters, proclaiming a state-wide presence and threatening to blow up Kolkata's Sealdah station with the help of 18-19-year-old suicide bombers were spotted on the walls of a local club at Rajarhat on Thursday evening.

The Sunday Guardian has come to know that arms and explosives are packed in small cardboard cartons and concealed inside sacks of contraband cumin seeds and milk powder before they are clandestinely sent to Bangladesh through the porous river border. Chinese-made small arms, hidden inside sacks of garlic pods, make their way into India. Sometimes, 10 out of every 100 sacks are filled with arms and explosives.

Only one BSF jawan was spotted outside a tent shrouded by huge trees and located some distance from the banks of the Sonai river at Amudia, where there is enough water for boats to ply.

The villager accompanying this correspondent pointed towards an anchored dinghy and said, "These boats are used to ferry men and materials at night, but a little further down, it is easy to walk along the dry stretch."

Sack carriers are paid Rs 100 and agents, known as dhurs, make Rs 500 to escort men and women into India.

NIA sources said that Kausar, the financer of the Burdwan terror module, who used to stay at the Badshahi Road house, used the porous river border at Hakimpur to escape to Bangladesh after the blast. Kausar used to carry money and raw materials to the Khagragar house where the blast took place, and ferry explosives and arms to border points and to other parts of India.Image 4th

The Ministry of Home Affairs has cautioned the state government that a portion of the terror financing was from cattle smuggling to Bangladesh, an illegal trade worth hundreds of crores of rupees annually.

When Zahid Hossain — an aide of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal — who was trained in explosives by Abdul Karim Tunda, was arrested by the state STF in July, he revealed that terrorists operated through cattle and gold smugglers and several of them had taken shelter in his hideout in Dhaka, where he used to run an export business.

Carriers generally tuck half a dozen gold biscuits into their lungis at the border. The profit margin on a single 120 gm gold biscuit is Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000. According to several villagers residing along the border, local politicians control both the cattle and the gold trade and their sway extends from the land borders to the Sunderbans.

In March this year, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence officials arrested Trinamool Congress leader Abdul Barik Biswas, recovering 45 kg of gold and licensed firearms from under the seat of the SUV in which he was travelling. Barik, who is now lodged in Kolkata's Presidency jail, is the brother of another influential TMC panchayat leader from North 24 Parganas, Golam Biswas.

Clearing and forwarding agencies carrying export and import items from Bangladesh through official channels are also facing extortion attempts to the tune of Rs 1,000-2,000 per truck, each way.

In Barik's absence, the racket is managed by his associates, say locals. Barik had shared the stage with TMC MLA and actress Debasree Roy at a party function earlier.

DRI sources said that the principal entry points for gold biscuits are North 24 Parganas' Hakimpur and Petrapole.

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