Calcutta: A suspected guerrilla fighter from the banned Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) was arrested on Monday by the West Bengal Police Special Task Force (STF) from Bhadrakut at the Indo-Nepal border near Siliguri in the district from Darjeeling, police said.
The man, identified as Dhankumar Burman, 26, is a resident of Cooch Behar district in North Bengal, Deputy Superintendent of Police (STF) Sudip Bhattacharya told media.
“Some documents, including coded messages that Burman exchanged with fugitive KLO leader Jiban Singha, were found in his possession. Burman was trying to enter Nepal,” he said.
Formed in 1995, the KLO has waged an armed struggle for a separate state for the local community of Koch Rajbanshi which comprises a significant portion of voters, particularly in Cooch Behar district.
KLO militants were armed and trained in Assam by militants of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). According to the original KLO doctrine, its objective is to form the state of Kamtapur comprising six districts of North Bengal and parts of Assam.
According to STF officials, Burman was hiding in Assam before entering Bengal.
Burman, who joined the KLO two years ago, said during questioning that he was tasked with fundraising in Nepal. His father, Sukumar Burman, was also a KLO activist and served time in prison, STF officials said.
A Siliguri court on Monday took Burman into custody.
State intelligence wing officials suspect that the KLO has been trying to resurface in Bengal since the 2021 elections in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 30 out of 54 seats in the eight districts of North Bengal. , although the TMC won 213 of the state elections. 294 seats against 77 snatched by the BJP. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats, setting a record. In North Bengal, he won seven of the eight seats.
Shortly after the assembly elections, John Barla, a member of the BJP Lok Sabha, demanded the formation of a separate state or union territory comprising districts in North Bengal, from which he been elected.
Since then, several ethnic groups in the region have voiced their former demands for separate states. Top BJP leaders such as National Vice President Dilip Ghosh argue that the views expressed by Barla and some other North Bengal party leaders are not endorsed by the leadership.
Barla was appointed Union Minister of State last year.
During her pre-election visits to North Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced some projects with grants for different communities prominently in her list of sops.
She announced that 161 former KLO members will be employed as home guards.
After the poll results were announced on May 2 last year, Jiban Singha, the runaway KLO chairman, broke his long silence and issued statements and video messages demanding Cooch Behar’s separation from West Bengal. . In the videos, which were shot in the jungle, he was seen dressed in military fatigues and his men carried assault rifles, state police officials said. Singha alleged that Rajbanshi were killed by TMC workers.
Singha also released a statement in which he threatened to take ‘ultimate action’ against TMC’s Cooch Behar District Chairman and former Lok Sabha Partha MP Pratim Roy and former regional minister Benoy Krishna Bartender.
Last month, Assam police arrested three suspected KLO liaison men from Dhubri district. In February, the Bengal Police STF arrested two KLO liaison men from Siliguri.