Dhaka hands over top ULFA leader to India

03/09/2014 : File photo of ULFA leader Anup Chetia. Bangladesh has agreed to handover detained ULFA leader Anup Chetia to India while India has agreed to handover Nur Hossain, the prime accused of the seven murders in Narayanganj, to the Bangladeshi authority. Credit: Special Arrangment.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT_E_MAIL

In what is seen as a major boost to security cooperation between the two neighbours, Bangladesh on Wednesday handed over to India Anup Chetia, a top leader of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), 18 years after his arrest in Dhaka.

Confirming this, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Chetia was “freed” after he expressed his desire to leave Bangladesh on completion of his jail term.

We ‘freed’ him: Dhaka

“Anup Chetia was detained under the law of the country and his jail term was completed. As he is a foreigner and expressed his interest to leave the country, we have freed him,” the Minister told reporters in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Chetia, who has been in Bangladesh since his arrest on December 21, 1997, was handed over to a team of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is learnt. The handover took place on Wednesday morning, according to reliable sources.

According to Mr. Kamal, the Bangladesh Border Guard handed over Chetia and his two prison mates — Babul Sharma and Shakti Prashad who were arrested with him — to personnel of the Border Security Force of India. He said the handover took place after the Indian embassy in Dhaka was informed.

India had been pressing for Chetia’s deportation for many years and the Prime Minister’s Office played a crucial role in it.

Chetia, one of the founding members of ULFA, formed in 1979 to fight for Assam’s secession from India, is wanted for murder, abductions and extortion.

When contacted, BSF Director-General D.K. Pathak refused to comment on the matter. A senior government official, however, confirmed that Chetia was in BSF’s custody and the cases against him were likely to be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

“A final decision has not been taken but the Assam police have several cases lodged against him. It makes sense for the NIA, a federal investigation agency, to probe the cases though,” said a senior Home Ministry official.

Government officials in Delhi were tight-lipped about Chetia’s custody and refused to divulge his location.

Chetia continued to be lodged in jail after completing his prison term in view of the Bangladesh High Court directive in August 2003 to keep him in safe custody until the government took a decision on his plea seeking political asylum in Bangladesh.

Chetia had sought asylum in Bangladesh in 2005, 2008 and in 2011 and was subsequently handed down seven years of jail terms by two courts for cross-border intrusion, carrying fake passports and illegal possession of foreign currencies.

Bangladesh has earlier handed over to India a number of top ULFA leaders, including Arabinda Rajkhowa on December 2, 2009. They have joined peace talks with the Indian government.

Another top leader Paresh Barua, who heads the armed wing of the outfit, remains on the run and is believed to have taken shelter in Myanmar.

Modi calls up Hasina

Mr. Modi called up Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hours after her country handed over Chetia, thanking her “for the help in the fight against terrorism.” In a Twitter post, Mr. Modi’s office said, “PM @narendramodi spoke to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina. He wished PM Hasina on Diwali & thanked her for the help in fighting terrorism.”

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi posted on Twitter, “We believe Anup Chetia will play an important role in the ongoing peace process. The Centre should give him adequate opportunity to play his role in the ongoing peace process. We have been demanding for his extradition since long.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh wrote on the microblogging site: “I welcome the handing over of Anup Chetia to India by the Bangladesh government. Handing over of Chetia by Bangladesh government shows its commitment and maturity to cooperate with India on issues like terror and organised crime.”

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Printable version | Oct 14, 2021 4:56:49 PM |

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