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Head of Banned Outfit KLO Revives Demand for Carving Out Kamtapur State from Bengal, Assam, Bihar & Nepal

After an audio message was released by the chief of the banned Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) from some undisclosed location, suspected in Myanmar bordering India, the vague concept of a Greater Cooch Behar state or Kamtapur state has gathered a buzz.

In the audio message released a couple of days ago, Jeevan Singha, the chief of KLO, said, “In 1949 August, there was a historic agreement between independent India and independent Coochbehar; this was the Coochbehar Merger Agreement. The focal point of the agreement was the declaration of Greater Cooch Behar or Kamtapur state as a C-category state. After 70 years of the signing of an agreement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have taken initiative under the ambit of the constitution to grant C-category state status to Kamtapur or Greater Cooch Behar state. We appreciate and welcome this move to fulfil sentiments of the Merger agreement. We are hopeful that within 2022 our aspiration shall be fulfilled. We are fully capable of running our own state. We want to taste the Amrit of the Azadi Ka Mahotsav.”

If insiders are to be believed, Singha might emerge and surrender soon. The surrender might be in the presence of a senior union minister or may be in the national capital. Right after the surrender, Jeevan Singha might team up with influential leader Ananta Rai Maharaj. Ananta Rai is residing in Cooch Behar and Amit Shah visited his house in Bijni, Assam, ahead of assembly elections in north Bengal. Ananta who is believed to have clout in the Koch-Rajbongshi-dominated north Bengal and several districts of Assam campaigned in the 2019 West Bengal assembly elections.

This is not the first time that Jeevan Singha has mentioned the demand for a separate state. In mid-2022, in a video released by KLO, he referred to the Mamata Banerjee government as “bahiragata (outsider)”. Singha also named three MPs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), namely Cooch Behar MP Nisith Pramanik, Jalpaiguri MP Jayanta Roy and Alipurduar MP John Barla, as supporters of a separate Koch-Kamtapur state.

“Kochbihar (Cooch Behar) is a separate category state under the India Accession Treaty. John Barla, Nishith Pramanik, Jayant Roy, MPs and MLAs who have won from the region, support a separate Koch-Kamtapur state. The people of Koch-Kamtapur will form the greater Kochbihar or Kamtapur State,” Jeevan Singha was heard saying in the video.

The KLO chief has earlier in many instances released such videos demanding a separate state. In 2021, charges against Jeevan Singha were brought under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Cooch Behar Trinamool Congress leader Partha Pratim Roy at that point of time said, “It is a result of the dirty politics of the BJP.”

On the other hand, as per records, Jalpaiguri BJP MP Jayanta Roy then did not object to the separatist leader’s remark.

“There is nothing wrong in demanding a separate state for north Bengal. It does not matter what name it is. If there is a separate state, it will be for all people of north Bengal; everyone in north Bengal is deprived,” the MP said.

Earlier, Alipurduar MP John Barla had raised the demand for a separate state to be carved out of territories in north Bengal. A number of BJP MPs and MLAs have often demanded a separate state to be carved out either from north Bengal or the Jangalmahal region in the state, areas where the party has significant influence, compared to south Bengal.

The Kamtapur state is proposed to be forked out of Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, and South Dinajpur districts in West Bengal, and Goalpara, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, and Kokrajhar districts in Assam, Kishanganj district in Bihar, and Jhapa district in Nepal.

In an exclusive interview of Ananta Rai Maharaj with News18 in September 2022, the advisor of Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association mentioned, “We have asked for the reformation of the C category state, the government advised us that in the 7th amendment the formation of C category state has been abolished and asked to demand the present status that is either state of union territory. We have asked for a state but the Centre made us understand that a union territory is more favourable as it shall have the grace of both the Centre and the government. Now talks are on the lines of union territory. We have mentioned this to the Prime Minister and union home minister and considerable headway has been made.

Tamir Das alias Jeevan Singha is the chairman of the KLO. He was arrested in October 1999 but regained control over the outfit after he was released by the Assam Police in a bid to make the other KLO cadres surrender. The KLO came into existence on December 28, 1995.

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