Tarique Rahman (acting chairman of BNP), who has been convicted in cases and has been living in London, and his associates including then intelligence officials in Bangladesh held ties with the separatist group United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Commander-in-Chief Paresh Barua, according to a report published today by India Today.
The report quotes Major General Gaganjit Singh, former deputy director general of India’s Defense Intelligence Agency, recalling the 2004 ten-truck arms and ammunition haul in Chattogram. According to Singh, the arms supply was done through the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat alliance.
ULFA and a few other rebel organisations in northeast India were intended to use the large consignment of weapons seized in Chattogram in April 2004, according to Major General Singh.
Sing’s disclosure in the India Today report comes after ULFA commander Anup Chetia in a recent interview said that the weapons were intended for other rebel groups in addition to his group. Chetia was arrested in Dhaka in 1997; he was the general secretary of ULFA at the time.
According to Singh, the architect of the entire conspiracy to get weaponry in order to intensify the separatist campaign in India’s Assam was ULFA Commander-in-Chief Paresh Barua.
“But he was operating in close coordination with DGFI and some NSI officials who had close links with Tarique Rahman and his cronies in what was then referred to as Hawa Bhaban (political office of BNP),” the ex-intel officer said.
The huge consignment of arms were being supplied, taking advantage of the BNP-Jamaat alliance, using Bangladesh “as a sanctuary,” Singh was quoted by India Today.
According to former BBC correspondent Subir Bhaumik, who reported on the Chattogram arms haul, Singh was closely involved in the operation to trace the passage of the weapons consignment.
As per reports, during the BNP-Jamaat government (2001-2006), Hawa Bhaban gained notoriety as the most influential and alternative power house from which Tarique, along with his confidants, gave the go-ahead for a number of reprehensible plots, including the grenade attack on then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina.
The India Today report quotes Singh as saying, “Paresh Barua was operating from a hotel in GEC Mor in Chittagong, not far from field intelligence unit of DGFI. We had all the details of the arrival of the weapons at the CFL jetty.” His sources in Bangladesh informed the police that the arms consignment had landed, adds the report.
“The police had no idea this was meant for ULFA and other rebels because the DGFI had been secretive about the whole operation. As the police swung into action to seize the weapons, the media also rushed in. The whole thing blew up on the face of the BNP government,” Singh said.
Detailed examination of the 10-truck arms haul case verdict and mainstream media reports point to hardcore radicals chosen and facilitated by Tarique, who enjoyed the highest level of official patronage to carry out such heinous schemes, the report says.