GUWAHATI, Aug 28 � The Government of Bangladesh is likely to hand over ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia,to Indian authorities before the visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Dhaka on September 6 and 7.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that though the exact date for handing over the ULFA leader is yet to be decided, the much-awaited development is likely to take place within the first week of September. �Bangladesh has given us to understand that Chetia would be formally handed over before the Prime Minister�s visit if the necessary formalities can be completed within this period,� sources added.
Sources said that Chetia cannot be handed over like the other ULFA leaders like the chairman of the outfit Arabinda Rajkhowa. The ULFA chairman and four other leaders of the outfit were handed over informally at the international border in 2009 but in case of Chetia, the handing over would be a formal affair as he is in protective custody of the Government of Bangladesh after completing his jail term.
Sources said a team of the Government of India recently met Chetia in Dhaka and he is reportedly in favour of the peace process. The Government is now trying to bring him back as soon as possible to involve him in the peace process as his presence in the talks is considered vital for the success of the peace process. Though Chetia has been outside the country for a long time, he is still considered one of the most powerful and influential members among the leaders and cadres of the ULFA.
It may be mentioned here that Chetia was first arrested in Kolkata in March, 1991 and though he was released later on parole for paving the way for talks with the outfit, he managed to escape. He was arrested in Bangladesh in December, 1997 under different provisions of the Passport Act and Foreigners� Act for staying illegally in that country. Fake Bangladeshi passport, a satellite phone and currencies of different countries were seized from him.
Even after the ULFA leader completed his seven-year jail term, he was kept in protective custody of Bangladesh as India and Bangladehs did not have an extradition treaty and Chetia also applied for political asylum in 2008.