With its top leadership divided and its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa under detention in Bangladesh, indications are that the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) may come forward for “unconditional talks” with the government, informed sources said here on Wednesday.
The sources said Rajkhowa may be flown to Delhi from Dhaka over the next few days and pave the way for holding negotiations with the Centre.
A statement favouring this course of action may come from the Assam government in the next few days as well, the sources said.
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said that the government has so far not received any offer of talks from the ULFA.
Rajkhowa heads the “pro-talks” faction of the separatist organisation, formed in 1979, while ULFA’s self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, now believed to be somewhere in Myanmar, has time and again reiterated that talks can be held only on the issue of sovereignty.
The sources said Rajkhowa was picked up somewhere near Dhaka on Monday night. New Delhi and Dhaka are yet to officially confirm the detention.
The reported crackdown by Bangladeshi authorities was welcomed by the security and intelligence community here.
The arrest comes ahead of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India scheduled from December 18.
Another top functionary, Anup Chetia, is in jail in Bangladesh and could be extradited to India before long.
The arrest of Rajkhowa has come as a blow to the outlawed outfit as two other senior leaders — “foreign secretary” Sasha Choudhury and “finance secretary” Chitraban Hazarika were also arrested on November 5.
An accused in several cases, including that of waging war against India, Rajkhowa has an Interpol Red Corner notice against him.
He has been out of India since 1992 and is said to have lived in several countries including Myanmar and Bhutan.
However, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and his Bangladesh counterpart Abdus Sobhan Sikder, who is now in India for Home Secretary-level talks that concluded on Wednesday, pleaded ignorance of the arrest.