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Conclave on Cross-border Terrorism a big success : Tripura Governor
Subir Bhaumik
Conclave on Cross-border Terrorism a big success : Tripura Governor
PHOTO : TRIPURA CONCLAVE 2016 being inaugurated by Hon Governor Tathagata Roy, former RAW Chief A.B.Mathur. TIWN Pic Aug 26, 2016

The 3rd Tripura Conclave on Cross-border Terrorism has been described as a 'big success' by the state's governor Tathagata Ray and other security experts who attended it.

For the first time, the conclave organised by TIWN was held in a double format -- a close door session to develop a roadmap for closer India-Bangladesh security cooperation, in which only leading security officials and experts were allowed and the usual open session where some of these experts addressed the issue before a  public audience at Sukanto Academy.

Since the close-door session was organised strictly on Chatham House's non-disclosure rules,  it is not possible to report the details of the deliberations.

But it has been decided to constitute a Joint Liasion Group  with officials from both countries to carry forward the deliberations until the agenda is adopted at the G2G ( government -to-government) level.

While Governor Tathagata Ray, the chief patron of this conclave, opened the close door sessions on  Friday morning, he delivered the concluding lecture at the open session .

Governor Ray highlighted crucial national secuity issues connected to cross-border terrorism emanating from Bangladesh that threatens to engulf India's East and Northeast.

"While the northeastern states like Assam and Tripura are well up to face the challenge and constantly deliberating on it, West Bengal should pull up its socks and address the issue squarely," Ray said.

Governor also highlighted the need to go ahead with the Teesta Water sharing agreement with Bangladesh . " The right of the lower riparian cannot be ignored. If we could have an agreement on Indus Waters with  Pakistan and honor it despite several wars and Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism on Indian soil, why cant we have such an agreement with Bangladesh soon," Governor Ray.

"That will be shot in the arm for our trusted friend and Bangladesh's prime minister Sheikh Hasina," he said.

Legendary spymaster A B Mathur conducted the close door deliberations and delivered thge keynote address at the open session.

"Pakistan is a common menace for India and Bangladesh," he said and stressed on the need to work together to tackle the menace of Pakistani-sponsored terrorism.

"Pakistan has much to do with the present spate of jihadi activities in Bangladesh. They are upset over the war crimes trials which is neutralising their trusted friends in the country ," said Mathur, now member of National Security Advisory Board and former secretary( security) of the Union Government.

Commodore Nurul Absar , senior director from Bangladesh Prime Minister's office, agreed with Mr Mathur and said closer India-Bangladesh security cooperation was the need of the hour.

"We need structures of real time intelligence sharing to tackle the menace of cross-border terrorism," said Nurul Absar.

Mr Mathur and Commodore Absar will report back to the Indian and Bangladesh government on the deliberations at the Conclave and then spearhead the formulation of a roadmap for closer India-Bangladesh security cooperation touching on key areas like intelligence sharing, exchanging data base on terrorist activity , cross-learning on counter-radicalisation strategies and much else.

Advisor Jaideep Saikia, who has advised Assam government on security issues, mooted the formation of the Joint Liasion Group and a joint study group  involving experts of both countries.

Conclave convenor Saumen Sarkar , a leading authority on cyber security, detailed latest developments in this field and stressed on the need for Bangladesh and specially bordering Indian states like Assam and Tripura to develop capabilities to fight terrorism in the cyberspace.

He detailed latest technological development like facial analysis to fight terrorism that is widely used in the West and by countries like Israel.

Assam police special branch chief Pallabh Bhattacharyya chaired  the open sessioin and came up with important proposals in the close-door session.

Veteran BBC journalist and author Subir Bhaumik moderated the session and explained the philosophy behind the 3rd Tripura Conclave . " Addressing cross-border terrorism  was the need of the hour and we made a beginning in our efforts to foster closer India-Bangladesh security cooperation."

Bhaumik stressed on the need to counter the terrorist narrative as key to beating them.

"This is a war not fought with guns alione. It is a battle of wits, where to win the argument is more important and specially in the cyberspace where the terrorists are learning to thrive and use it as force multiplier," said Bhaumik.

The first Tripura Conclave in 2014 discussed role of states in Indian foreign policy and relationship with neighbours like Bangladesh. That has led to a book edited by Subir Bhaumik called " Agartala Doctrine" published by Oxford University Press.

The Second Tripura Conclave  in 2015 discussed issues of Information Technology industry  in the backdrop of Agartala emerging as India's third Internet gateway.

"Our effort is to create a culture of policy dialogue with a state-nonstate interface in Northeast," says Conclave Convernor Saumen Sarkar.

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