Chetia’s extradition to help Centre-ULFA talks

Guwahati, Nov 11 (IANS) The repatriation of jailed ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia from Bangladesh after about 18 years is likely to have a positive impact on the ongoing tripartite parleys between the central and state governments and an ULFA faction led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.

Chetia’s extradition has been one of the main demands of the pro-talks faction of ULFA leaders, participating in the peace process with the government since 2010.

A senior Assam Police official said Chetia’s two other colleagues – Lakhi Prasad Goswami and Babul Sarma – are also likely to be brought back to the state.

He, however, said it might take a day or two to bring Chetia to Assam as some central security agencies were likely to quiz him. “However, we are going to bring him (to the state) as most cases against him are registered in Assam,” he said.

Bangladesh-based newspapers on Wednesday reported that Chetia – lodged in Bangladesh jails since 1997 – was handed over to a team of Indian officials on Wednesday morning.

Chetia, born in Jerai Gaon in Tinsukia district of Assam, is one of the key leaders of the banned militant outfit United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

A founder-member of ULFA, he was arrested on December 21, 1997, from a house in Mohammedpur area of Bangladesh for illegally entering the country on a forged passport and possessing illegal foreign currency, firearms and a satellite phone.

Subsequently, he was tried and sentenced to jail terms varying from three to seven years by a Bangladeshi court.

The Indian government could not bring Chetia back for long in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries. However, the process of Chetia’s extradition began after an extradition treaty was signed between India and Bangladesh in 2013. Chetia had volunteered to be repatriated rather than be kept in protective custody of Bangladesh.

ULFA’s peace negotiations with the central and state governments began in 2010 after Bangladesh handed over to the Indian authorities the separatist outfit’s chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy chief of the outfit’s armed wing Raju Baruah and several other top ULFA leaders in 2009.

 

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