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RAB for more combing in Satcherri jungles : Likely to unearth more weapons cache of ATTF, NLFT Ultras
TIWN Exclusive
RAB for more combing in Satcherri jungles : Likely to unearth more weapons cache of ATTF, NLFT Ultras
PHOTO : Habibganj Arms Haul, Satcherri jungles. Picture Courtsey : bdnews24

DHAKA / AGARTALA, October 8 (TIWN Exclusive): Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has decided to comb the entire Satcherri jungles opposite Tripura, where the headquarters of the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) was once located.RAB's Operations Director Col Ziaul Ahsan told TIWN that the intelligence inputs received by his force indicated 'the likelihood of more weapons cache' in the area." We have recovered a lot of weapons from the Satcherri jungles , but we have reasons to believe there could be more. And I am sure this is not one small rebel group doing it. A big arms trafficking cartel seems to be involved ."Col Ahsan said when the rains stop fully, his force will comb the whole area."We have nabbed some local tribals in that area. We believe they had close links with various rebel groups who operated in the area and also the arms smugglers. We will get some good leads from them."Indian strategic analysts say that the RAB has done a great job by smashing the Satcherri arms caches but such caches could come up in other parts of Bangladesh, specially in Chittagong Hill Tracts, where the terrain was more difficult for Bangladesh security forces to penetrate.

"Look at the big arms seizures in Mizoram and we find some Chakmas are involved. Then you see the breakthrough in Satcherri. The whole Northeast India- Bangladesh corridor is awash with weapons and Myanmar is not far away. A huge trans national effort is needed to crush the arms trafficking in the area," says retired Major General Gaganjit Singh, former deputy chief of India's Defense Intelligence Agency.
Singh commanded mountain divisions during his long career in the Indian army and took part in counter-insurgency operations in Northeast.
Earlier this year, RAB has unearthed a huge arms cache in the Satcherri jungles of Habiganj's Chunarughat upazila from what was once perhaps the headquarters of the now-weakened All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF).

The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has in the past used the ATTF's Satcherri base to stock up weapons that were finally smuggled into Northeast India for use by their fighters.

The ATTF is now weakened and its chief Ranjit Debbarma was handed over to India by Bangladesh where he was arrested in January 2013. 

Debbarma , who is standing trial in his home state Tripura on countless charges of murder and abduction, is very close to ULFA military wing chief Paresh Barua who has been awarded a death sentence in the 2004 Chittagong arms cases.

Barua , now absconding, is believed to hiding somewhere around Tengchong in the Sino-Burmese border.

The ULFA and ATTF would smuggle huge quantity of Chinese-made weapons through south-east Asia by sea, land them around Cox's Bazar or Chittagong take them to rebel bases like Satcherri , from where they would be smuggled into India's troubled northeast.

The recovery at Satcherri on earlier occasions in June 2014 is perhaps the single biggest case of arms seizures since the 2004 Chittagong arms case.

RAB said atleast 200 rocket launchers were among the huge consignment of weapons that were seized from five bunkers at Satcherri during a special operation undertaken by RAB. 

Ahsan said the 200-odd rocket launchers were found in one huge bunker alone. More weapons were found from other bunkers located in the forest . The RAB has been on a special operation in the Satcherri jungles for the last two days and at the time of writing this report, the operations were still continuing.

The ATTF used to keep those they used to abduct for ransom in Satcherri.

Tripura's leading tea planter Yugabrata Chakrabarti died of renal failure in Satcherri's ATTF base when he ran out of medicines following his abduction.

The ATTF asked for 1 million Indian rupees even for returning his dead body to his family.

Indian military intelligence organised some renegade ATTF fighters in 2002 and staged a huge attack on the ATTF Satcherri base . Several ATTF fighters were killed in that attack.

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