United Liberation Front of Asom chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and the self-styled deputy commander-in-chief Raju Barua were sent to jail on Saturday at the end of their 21-day police custody.

Robin Phukan, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup (Metropolitan), remanded them to 14 days’ judicial custody, as the prosecution did not press for further police custody, defence counsel Bijan Mahajan told journalists.

Mr. Phukan remanded Rajkhowa’s bodyguard, Raja Bora, to police custody in Dibrugarh in connection with a case registered at the Jaoypur station in the district.

The ULFA leaders were produced in a special camp court in the Central Jail here after their police custody expired.

The police took into custody Champak Deka, a city resident, for interrogation after he distributed leaflets outside the jail appealing to both the ULFA and the government to sit down for talks.

With the judicial remand of Rajkhowa and Barua, the number of top leaders, who are members of the outfit’s central executive council and now lodged in the Central Jail here, has risen to seven. The others are vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi, ‘foreign secretary’ Sasha Choudhury, ‘finance secretary’ Chitraban Hazarika, ‘cultural secretary’ Pranati Deka and the former central publicity secretary, Mithinga Daimary.

Another central executive council member, Bhimkanta Buragohain, is in the Tezpur jail, while the self-styled captain, Ramu Mech, is on parole on health grounds.

Strategic move?

There was speculation that the police did not press for further custody of Rajkhowa and Barua as part of a strategic move by the government to facilitate an informal meeting of the top ULFA leaders to discuss the possibilities of a dialogue with the Centre.

Sources here said Bhimkanta Buragohain was also likely to be shifted to the Guwahati jail to join them.

The Assam government is hopeful of the extradition of ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia, now in a Dhaka jail, once an extradition treaty is signed between India and Bangladesh.