New Delhi/Dhaka, Nov 11 (IANS): Golap Baruah alias Anup Chetia, the fugitive leader of the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), has been handed over by Bangladesh to India, a top Indian official said.
Bangladesh Rifles handed over Chetia, the runaway general secretary of ULFA, to the Border Security Force (BSF) at Dawki in Meghalaya around 2 am on Wednesday morning, a senior official from India's Prime Minister's Office said. Chetia is being flown to New Delhi by the CBI.
Dawki is a border trade centre between India and Bangladesh.
"He (Chetia) has been handed over to India following the request of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval," a PMO official told IANS, requesting anonymity.
"The Central Bureau of Investigation will take custody of Chetia. He is being flown to New Delhi and will have to face trial in India for various crimes committed by him in Assam which include murder, kidnapping and extortion," he said.
Chetia is wanted by India to stand trial in various criminal cases of extortion, kidnapping, murder and attempt to murder.
Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal confirmed in Dhaka that Chetia has been handed over to India. "Chetia has been handed over to India legally after completing his prison term," the Bangladesh Home Minister told IANS.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said Anup Chetia's deportation from Bangladesh would help crack many cases related to the banned outfit. "Handing over of Anup Chetia by Bangladesh to India is a major breakthrough. Chetia is a top leader of ULFA and his handing over will lead to cracking of many cases. The Central agencies and the Assam Police will investigate him," Rijiju told the media in New Delhi.
The Assamese insurgent leader was once arrested in Assam in 1991, but was freed by the State Government and fled to Bangladesh. Chetia and his two bodyguards were later arrested from his plush apartment in North Adabar under Muhammedpur police station in Dhaka on ADecember 21, 1997, for illegally entering Bangladesh and for illegally carrying foreign currency and a satellite phone. Chetia was tried and sent to jail.
His prison term ended February 25, 2007, and he was kept in the Kashimpur Jail on the outskirts of Dhaka since 2012 in view of a Dhaka High Court directive to keep him in safe custody until the Bangladesh government decided on his plea for political asylum in Bangladesh.
Chetia founded the ULFA in 1979 with five other leaders, including the outfit's commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah who is now believed to be hiding somewhere in China or Myanmar, having escaped Bangladesh earlier.
The Assamese separatist leader had sought political asylum in Bangladesh on three occasions - in 2005, 2008 and in 2011. He also applied to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for political asylum in Bangladesh, contending he had been fighting for a sovereign Assam.
But later Chetia sought that his application for political asylum in Bangladesh should be cancelled as he wanted to be part of the ongoing peace talks between the government (of India) and the ULFA.
On May 13, 2013, Chetia in his petition submitted to the Rajshahi Central Jail in Bangladesh, where he was kept in detention, said: "Earlier, I wanted to stay in this country. I have changed my mind and I have decided to live the rest of my life with my children in my country (India)."
In fact, Chairman of ULFA's pro-talk faction Arabinda Rajkhowa on several occasion had asked the Indian government to seek Chetia's extradition from Bangladesh to India.
Rajkhowa and other ULFA leaders Sasha Choudhury and Chitraban Hazarika have initiated peace talks with the Indian government.