Dhaka: Bangladesh authorities have found 13,000 bullets in a village on its northeastern border with India that they say were left behind by Indian militants.
Based on information from locals, investigators said the bullets found in Bakagora village of Sherpur district belonged to insurgents from the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) who were active in the border area`s hilly villages.
The officials said it is difficult to identify the people who had left those, as no one, except for an 80-year-old, had a look at the militants in the dark.
Jhenaigati police on Dec 18, recovered 13,680 rifle bullets - equivalent to 57 packets of ammunition - in plastic sacks from an abandoned room of octogenarian Wasir Uddin.
Lt. Col. Ziaul Ahsan, chief of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) intelligence wing, told the Daily Star newspaper that the ammunition was left behind by ULFA separatists when they abandoned their hideouts in the country.
The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has closed down the Indian insurgent groups` safe havens allegedly provided by previous Bangladesh governments, while India is also pursuing the militants who earlier staged operations from Bangladeshi soil.
ULFA activists, some of whom left the Bangladeshi territory with their wives and children and sneaked back into India`s northeastern state of Assam, could have dumped the ammunition behind when their exodus began.
Bangladesh last year facilitated the detention of many senior ULFA leaders. Now in Indian jails, some of them are ready to negotiate peace deal with Indian authorities.
Ahsan said ULFA operatives were active in the area amid Bangladesh operations but their network in the country is almost destroyed.
Many law enforcers and locals told the newspaper that ULFA operatives have hideouts in the bordering villages in Sherpur.
Abdur Rauf of Jhenaigati police station said: "The bordering villages on hills are so remote that our men and logistics are not sufficient to keep vigil over the area after nightfall. Besides, there are herds of wild elephants to deal with. The Indian insurgents have been taking this advantage."
In October last year, the RAB recovered 10 grenades from Jhenaigati and arrested three people, including two local men.
After preliminary interrogation, RAB officials said Pang Vang Sangma, 37, and Nipin Sangma, 25, of Gajni village in Jhenaigati collected the grenades from Indian separatists.
Locals at some hilly villages said they are living in constant fear and cannot go out at night fearing ULFA men.
They fear that since they had informed law enforcers of the abandoned ammunition, the ULFA men may come back and take revenge on them.
The villagers said although Indian insurgents kept intruding and living with indigenous families in remote hilly villages during the Khaleda Zia government`s rule, police and administration remained indifferent to it. This, the villagers said, left them feeling insecure.
The insurgents used to roam about at night and sometimes scared wild elephants using firearms, they said.
Another local, wishing not to be named, said ULFA activists usually married into indigenous families and settled here.
Hajiran, a middle-aged woman, said one evening three years ago, her son-in-law took his wife and one-year-old son for a walk and never returned.
"After their disappearance, I came to know that my son-in-law was an ULFA activist," she said, adding that he could not speak Bangla well, but that she agreed to marry off her daughter to him as he was rich.
Several police officers said they also heard about ULFA men disappearing with their wives and children from the country.