NEW DELHI, Nov 11 - Acting on a request of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh handed over ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia to a team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials in Dhaka today.
Sources said that the CBI has shifted Chetia to its headquarters, where underworld Don Chhota Rajan is also lodged. Chetia is likely to be examined by a doctor before being produced before the CBI court on Thursday.
The confirmation of Chetia�s release came when Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said in Dhaka that the government has �released� Chetia on completion of his detention.
The Home Minister told newsmen that members of the Border Guard Bangladesh also handed over Anup�s two prison mates � Babul Sharma and Shakti Prashad who were arrested along with him � to the Border Security Force. However, he did not elaborate on the issue.
The Home Minister of Bangladesh said, �Anup Chetia was detained under the law of the country and his jail term has completed. As he is a foreigner and has expressed his interest to leave the country, we have freed him,� Kamal told newsmen.
According to sources, a team of CBI officials landed in Dhaka on Sunday and held parleys with the security officials in Dhaka. The Indian High Commission was also closely involved in the negotiation process, sources said.
Chetia, who was in Mohammadpur area of Dhaka before his arrest on December 21, 1997, was handed over to a team of CBI officials at the personal intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and through the active involvement of India�s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, reports from Dhaka said.
However, details of his whereabouts was kept under tight wraps with the operation being supervised by Doval. The entire operation was conducted by the Prime Minister�s Office keeping the Ministry of Home Affairs in the dark, sources added.
Sources revealed that Chetia has been flown to Delhi from Dhaka by the CBI in a special BSF aircraft on Wednesday. Chetia�s release became possible after Government of Bangladesh rejected his application seeking asylum, sources said.
While most of the charges against Chetia are registered in Assam, he has only one case registered against him in Delhi.
The timing of Modi�s intervention is significant as it comes ahead of the last round of negotiations between the Government of India and the pro-talk faction of ULFA on November 24.
�We hope that Chetia would be able to join the next round of negotiations,� top pro-talk leader Shasha Choudhury told this newspaper over telephone.
Talking to media-persons, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said Chetia is a top leader of ULFA and his handing over will lead to cracking of many cases, which the Central agency and Assam Police will investigate. Rijiju also thanked the Bangladesh government for accepting India�s demand in this regard.
Chetia had sought political asylum in Bangladesh thrice � in 2005, 2008 and 2011 � after Bangladesh police arrested him in December 1997 and was subsequently handed down seven years of jail terms by two courts for cross-border intrusion, carrying fake passports and illegally keeping foreign currencies.
Despite the expiry of his prison term, Chetia was in jail under a 2003 Bangladesh High Court directive asking authorities to keep him in safe custody until a decision was taken regarding his asylum plea. India had been pressing Bangladesh for deportation of Chetia for several years.
Meanwhile, in a quid pro quo deal, Dhaka is seeking deportation of two of its most wanted men, Subrata Bain and Sajjad Hossain, under a �swap deal� in exchange for Anup Chetia.
India is understood to have agreed to hand over the duo who are now lodged in Indian jails. Though no timeframe has been fixed for the �swap deal�, it may happen by the end of this year.
The duo was handed death sentence by Bangladeshi courts for murder and a grenade attack on an Awami League rally in Dhaka in August, 2004.