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Cablegate: Dhaka Pol/Econ Counselor Dundas Mccullough Interacts With

VZCZCXRO0289
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI
DE RUEHCI #0463/01 2891308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161308Z OCT 06
FM AMCONSUL CALCUTTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1208
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0260
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1077
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 0425
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 0425
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 0260
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0177
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0199
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0094
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 1477

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CALCUTTA 000463

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PBTS ECON IN BG NP PTER
SUBJECT: DHAKA POL/ECON COUNSELOR DUNDAS MCCULLOUGH INTERACTS WITH
INDIAN OFFICIALS IN CALCUTTA


1. (U) Summary: On October 5, Embassy Dhaka Pol/Econ Counselor
Dundas McCullough visited Calcutta to assess Indian perspectives
on security and infiltration of terrorists from Bangladesh into
India and for an overview of India's economic relationship with
Bangladesh. The prevailing sentiment in meetings with Indian
interlocutors was that cooperation and information sharing
between the GOI and GOB on security matters is negligible at
best, even though infiltration was on the rise. Foreign
diplomats and private sector representatives cited a lack of
trust between the two governments as the primary barrier to
improving economic relations. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Dhaka Pol/Econ Counselor, Calcutta CG, and Calcutta
Poloff met with Government of West Bengal (GOWB) Home Secretary
P.R. Ray. Ray identified illegal migration from Bangladesh as a
historical problem with possible growing links to terrorism, and
cited the failure of GOB officials to recognize and act upon
shared GOI intelligence as a major stumbling block for bilateral
cooperation on matters of security. Ray acknowledged that India
itself had "only just woken up to the true gravity of the
situation," and that there had been scant progress on properly
identifying immigrants, either through an ID card system or land
records. In addition, obtaining "actionable intelligence" was
generally proving difficult. However, Ray claimed that the GOI
had plenty of evidence that insurgent groups were training in
Bangladesh and had provided the GOB with the same, with no
result. (Note: This theme was a recurring one, with Indian
interlocutors stressing that the GOI had provided the GOB with
lists with names and addresses of terrorists taking refuge in
Bangladesh, but that the GOB had not followed up. When we asked
for a copy of the lists, we were referred to New Delhi. End
note.)

3. (SBU) Coming out of recent Home Secretaries meetings in
Dhaka, Ray was not optimistic that there would be much
improvement of bilateral relations in the near future. Ray
opined that the Bangladeshi attitude on issues such as
extradition and consular access rights in fact had hardened in
the past two years. This lack of cooperation was apparent in
the ongoing Indian effort to establish a border fence between
the two nations. Repatriation was a difficult task, with
Bangladesh authorities being unwilling to accept those being
"pushed back" by India's Border Security Forces (BSF). Ray felt
there was little interest from the Central Indian government to
tackle the problem of determining migrants' citizenship and
identity, but it was also because many Bangladeshis had taken up
residence in major Indian cities and were contributing to the
economy that the political will was lacking.

4. (SBU) The Deputy Inspector General of Police - (Criminal
Investigation Department) Soumen Mitra shared Ray's view that
the 4,095-kilometer border between India and Bangladesh is too
"porous." Mitra felt that given the ease with which banned or
suspected terrorist organizations could change their names, it
was probable that some had already set up operations in W.
Bengal. To curb criminal activities in India and border-states,
Mitra highlighted the need for an extradition treaty between
India and Bangladesh, but acknowledged that little was being
done to make this a reality. He also added that smuggling of
arms through Burma and the Chittagong hill tracts to criminals
and insurgents in Northeast India was a persistent problem.
When asked about the growing number of madrassas in W. Bengal's
border areas, Mitra identified the Middle East, particularly
Saudi Arabia, as the madrassas' primary source of funding.

5. (SBU) While West Bengal's State Congress Party General
Secretary Dr. Nuruzzaman (Note: the Congress party is a member

SIPDIS
of the opposition in West Bengal, and Dr. Nuruzzaman is a
Muslim) shared the view that Indian states near the Bangladesh
border have become more vulnerable since the creation of
Bangladesh, he believed that all madrassas at the border areas
should not be treated as terrorist training grounds. He was
aware that the madrassas received money from abroad, but
believed that is was mainly for their own infrastructure
development. Nurazzaman also blamed the BSF for not doing enough
if there really as a problem with infiltrations. Commenting on
the upcoming Bangladesh elections, he said, "We all know that
Jamat-e-Islami, which is supporting the present Khaleda Zia
government, is a fundamentalist party. We have no problems with
Sheikh Hasina Wajed's Awami League."


CALCUTTA 00000463 002 OF 002


6. (U) In later meetings with academics, businessmen, and
diplomats, views on the Indo-Bangladesh relationship remained
negative. The Bangladeshi Deputy High Commissioner (BDHC) and
Nepali Deputy Consul General pointed out the extreme trade
imbalance between their countries and India, and explained that
there was little they could do about increasing Indian
cooperation. Non-tariff barriers at the border effectively
slowed trade, and there was little sign that India was prepared
to make a serious effort to reduce onerous bureaucratic
requirements on goods coming into India. Dialogue to address
these concerns was non-existent. "The trust just isn't there,"
said the BDHC.

7. (SBU) Comment: With the media highlighting suspected
terrorists' use of Bangladesh as an entry point into India to
carry out the July 11 Mumbai bombings, Indian suspicion about
the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh is steadily
increasing. With Bangladesh's national election set for January
2007, Dhaka Pol/Econ counselor repeatedly stressed that the U.S.
saw the formation of a new government, regardless of who wins
the election, as a target of opportunity for closer cooperation
on security issues. If the recent meetings were any indication,
however, the GOI and local law enforcement have yet to decide if
and how India could join in that effort.

8. (U) This message was cleared by Pol/Econ Counselor
McCullough.
JARDINE

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