NATIONAL SECURITY: History of armed forces to deck up Patton premises

NATIONAL SECURITY: History of armed forces to deck up Patton premises – now against cross-border terrorist and criminal forces ?!!

The tank at Sagardighi in Cooch Behar - a war memorial woth admiring for what it once represented ?!! (Photo by Main Uddin Chisti)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY MAIN UDDIN CHISTI

Cooch Behar, July 27: Bengali novelist Bibhuti Bhusan Bandyopadhyay had once dubbed this town the “city of beauty”. The district ex-servicemen’s association has decided to beautify it further by doing up the south-eastern corner of Sagardighi where there is a Pakistani Patton tank, seized as a trophy during the 1971 war of liberation for Bangladesh.

Yesterday, on Kargil Day, at a programme organised to commemorate the fallen soldiers, the association announced that a hoarding depicting famous victories and achievements of the Indian armed forces would be put up behind the Patton tank.

General secretary of the association Tapan Chowdhury said several attempts to draw the attention of the district administration to beautify the south-eastern corner of Sagardighi, where the war trophy is kept, had remained unheard.

“We have decided to raise subscriptions from our members to carry out the work ourselves. Soon we will put up a hoarding with pictures of the achievements of the army, the navy and the air force. It will be like a permanent exhibition that will enlighten the tourists as well as students on the role of our armed forces,” said Chowdhury.

He added that the US-made tank was seized by the Indian army after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. The war trophy is one of the tourist attractions in Cooch Behar along with the palaces and the temples that dot the town.

“The tank was initially kept at the Chila Roy army barracks here when it was brought after the Pakistanis were defeated in Bangladesh. Later, it was kept for public viewing at Sagardighi,” Chowdhury said.

However, the area where the tank is kept overran with weeds and turned into a den of criminal activity.

“The district merchants’ association had cleared and beautified the place in 2003 before handing over the upkeep of the tank to us. We have fenced the area and the tank is given a fresh coat of paint every year. All programmes to commemorate the victories of our soldiers and to remember the martyrs are always held here,” Chowdhury said .

Members of the district ex-servicemen’s association will contribute photographs and the army, navy and air force were being contacted for archived pictures to feature in the hoarding.

“We will have photographs of the Kargil conflict, the Bangladesh war of liberation, and pictures of aircraft and ships in action,” the secretary said.

One held on border with 250 detonators – terrorism knows no boundaries ?!!

Ilias Sehikh (head covered) being taken to court in Balurghat - severest publishment a good and necessary example ?!! (Mithun Roy)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Balurghat, July 27: The BSF arrested a man with 250 detonators from a village near Hili bordering Bangladesh last night, the seizure coming close on the heels of a warning by the paramilitary force that Maoists had settled in areas closer to India in the neighbouring country.

Ilias Sehikh, 35, was arrested from Haripukur by the 57th Battalion of the border force acting on a tip-off.

The BSF handed over Sheikh to Hili police at 11am today. He was later produced in the court of chief judicial magistrate of Balurghat Fatema Yasmin here and remanded in police custody for seven days.

Senior BSF officers said the detonators were being smuggled into India from Bangladesh and efforts were being made to get the details from various sources.

“We had told the Bangladesh border guards recently that Maoists had settled down in different areas close to the border. But we did not notice any sincere effort on the part of the Bangladesh government to crack down on the Maoists,” said a senior BSF officer.

The police said they would interrogate Sheikh and try to find out if he had any link with the Maoists. The BSF had seized 200 detonators from Haripukur on April 2 also. However, the person who had been carrying the explosives gave the force the slip. Haripukur is 30km from here.

Officials in the state home department said they were examining if the militants were using the 252-km international border in South Dinajpur for the supply of explosives. They are worried about the 30km stretch of the border without barbed wire fence.

District superintendent of police, South Dinajpur, Swapan Banerjee Purnapatra said the BSF had been asked to intensify vigil along the border following the recovery of the explosives in a span of four months.

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