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India renews plea for Chetia deportation

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Feb 17 � India has once again requested Bangladesh to release detained ULFA leader Anup Chetia, even as the neighbouring country pressed for ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).

The issues figured at the meeting between Union Home Secretary LC Goyal and the Senior Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Bangladesh, Dr Md Mozammel Haque Khan, at a Home Secretary-level talk between India and Bangladesh on Tuesday.

The meeting assumes significance because it is the first high-level interaction since the busting of JMB hideouts in Assam and West Bengal. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case, has made a number of arrests, including a few Bangladeshi nationals having links with JMB.

India has been pressing for release of Chetia, lodged in Dhaka jail for the past 18 years. At the last round of talks Bangladesh had assured that Chetia would be extradited to India �very soon�. �We have expressed our willingness to return him...He will be returned very soon,� Home Secretary Mozammel Haque Khan had then told newsmen.

The ULFA�s founder general secretary was arrested in Bangladesh in 1997 and is under detention on completion of his seven-year jail term for cross-border intrusion, carrying fake passports and illegally keeping foreign currencies.

He has completed his prison term but is still being kept in jail in line with a Bangladeshi High Court directive in August 2003 to keep him in safe custody until the government made a decision on his plea seeking political asylum in Bangladesh.

Sources said Bangladesh raised the issue of LBA with Indian officials explaining that the Constitution Amendment Bill is pending passage in Rajya Sabha after it was cleared by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Sources said that issues of illegal infiltration from Bangladesh, smuggling of narcotics and fake Indian

currency also figured in the discussion.

India and Bangladesh are also likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to prevent cross-border human trafficking, particularly of women and children, once the Indian Cabinet clears it.

India also raised the issue of the smuggling of fake Indian currency from Bangladesh while Bangladesh asked India to ensure �zero killing� on the border by BSF.

Earlier, the Bangladesh delegation met Home Minister Rajnath Singh this afternoon. The delegation was led by its Senior Home Secretary. During the meeting, Home Secretary LC Goyal, Secretary for Border Management in the Ministry Sneh Lata Kumar, and Director General of Border Security Force DK Pathak were also present.

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