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Assam militants cannot set up base again: Bhutan PM
Published on 21 Jan. 2010 12:12 AM IST
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Militants from India's northeast had no chance of again setting up base in Bhutan, Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley said here Wednesday, and added that threats from Maoist rebels existed but his country was capable of fighting back. Refuting the possibility that militants from northeast India could again set up base in his country, Thinley told IANS in an interview: "Such speculations are incorrect and there are no militant activities in Bhutan especially after our security forces flushed out militant groups from our country." "Our security establishment is on alert and every measure is being taken to ensure that whatever has happened in the past cannot happen again," he added. In 2003, Bhutan launched Operation All Clear and busted at least 30 camps belonging to outlawed rebel groups United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA0, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO). More than 20 rebels were also killed in the operation that helped the country flush out all Indian rebels from its soil. India and Bhutan share a 643 km unfenced border. He admitted that threat from Maoists did exist. "The threat (from Maoists) is there and I think such threats exist for all countries. Interests are there from such parties, but there is no basis on which their efforts can gain ground in our country." Thinley was in the southern Bhutan town of Gelephu, adjoining the northeastern Indian state of Assam, for a routine visit to the southern districts to oversee development and security issues. He will be visiting the southern districts for the next two days. Bhutan has been hit a series of explosions since 2008. More than a dozen people have been killed with security forces blaming the little known Nepal-based Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist) for the attacks in the otherwise peaceful Himalayan nation. Bhutanese security forces in the past one year busted at least three Maoist camps in southern Bhutan districts and captured about eight rebels. Bhutan had witnessed a pro-democracy agitation in the 1990s with a section of Nepali-speaking residents in its southern parts rising in revolt against the monarchy. The crackdown that followed led thousands of Nepali-speaking people from southern Bhutan to flee to Nepal. Now an estimated 100,000 people are sheltered in relief camps. There are reports that the Maoists are recruiting among aggrieved refugees now based in Nepal. "The only way that such situations can be prevented is by way of providing good governance and justice. We are confident of repulsing any such threats," the prime minister said. Bhutan became the world's newest democracy in 2008 after the first general elections gave Thinley's Druk Phuensum Tshogpa party an absolute majority, thereby transforming the largely Buddhist nation from a 100-year-old monarchy to parliamentary democracy. "Democracy has started under extraordinarily peaceful conditions and I am happy that it is gaining ground and that its roots are being established. I am confident that democracy will thrive for the well being of the Bhutanese people," the prime minister said.

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