Courtesy: Daily Sun, first page, Dhaka, Dec 2, 2011
Dhaka may hand over Anup Chetia in April
Guwahati: Ulfa separatist leader Anup Chetia is likely to be released in April and decks are being cleared to ensure his participation in peace talks with the Indian government.
Outlawed Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, arrested in Bangladesh a year ago and transported to India, was Saturday set free from Guwahati jail on bail as a step towards peace talks with the government, reports Assam Tribune.
Stepping out of jail, the 54-year-old secessionist leader told reporters that they were ready for unconditional peace talks but a formal decision would be taken by the Ulfa executive committee meet once all jailed leaders are freed.
He urged the government to release from jail Ulfa foreign secretary Sasha Chouhdury and finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, and for taking urgent steps to enable general secretary Anup Chetia now in Bangladesh jail to return to Assam and take part in the peace process.
Highly placed source in New Delhi said Anup Chetia is likely to be released in April and decks are being cleared to ensure his participation in the first round of talks with the government.
It said New Delhi has formally conveyed to Bangladesh that it wants Chetia’s extradition to go through as early, as possible. His petition for asylum has been rejected paving the way for his hand over.
Chetia was arrested in Dhaka on December 21, 1997 and sentenced to seven years jail for illegal entry and possession of firearms. The jail term ended, he refused to return to India and sought for political asylum. Since then he remained in custody.
On December 7, 2008, Chetia had moved the United Nations High Commissioner urging it to grant him refugee status and political asylum in Bangladesh.
Although there is no extradition treaty between Bangladesh and India, the report said, the govern-ment of Sheikh Hasina has finally relented and conveyed its willingness to extradite Chetia.
Ulfa hardliners led by its commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah has rejected peace talks with the government. He is reported mobilising strength from safe sanctuary along the Myanmar border. The group on Saturday rejected the Chief Minister’s offer of safe passage to the militants to celebrate ensuing Bhogali Bihu with their families, as a gesture to boost proposed peace talks.
“Dacoits of Chambal accept safe passage offer, not freedom fighters,” an e-mail signed by self-styled Ulfa ‘second lieutenant’ Arunodoi Duhotia said Saturday.
Assam Gano Parishad predicted that peace talks will be futile without the participation of Paresh Baruah who still wields all power in the secessionist outfit. —UNB