Guwahati, June 10: Bangladesh is ‘processing’ Ulfa leader Anup Chetia’s request for voluntary repatriation to India. Chetia, the general secretary of the outlawed outfit, has been in a Bangladeshi prison since 1997. He asked to be repatriated to India in June last year. Chetia was a close aide of Ulfa supremo Paresh Baruah.
Chetia alias Golap Baruah was arrested at Dhaka’s Mohammadpur on December 21, 1997, for illegally entering the country and carrying foreign currency with a satellite phone. He has also asked the Bangladesh government to cancel his petitions for political asylum, which he filed in 2005, 2008 and 2011.
On Sunday, Bangladesh’s state minister for home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan, in reply to a question by independent member Rustum Ali Farazi in the Dhaka parliament, said, “Chetia’s appeal for repatriation to India is being considered by the home ministry.” However, the minister did not say anything about when Chetia would be extradited.
Chetia’s wife Monika Baruah, daughters Jumon (22) and Bulbuli (17) arrived in Assam from Dhaka last month. His family was living in a rented house in Dhaka since 1995, by which time most top Ulfa leaders had shifted base there. Their homecoming was facilitated by both India and Bangladesh.
India wants Chetia, along with Arabinda Rajkhowa’s pro-talks faction of Ulfa, to join peace talks. It is believed that Chetia’s extradition will boost Indo-Bangladesh bilateral security and cooperation.
For the Centre, Chetia’s presence in peace talks will represent a tactical victory against the anti-talks Paresh Baruah.
“Chetia was the brains behind the formation of Ulfa in 1979. His presence is vital for the success of the peace talks,” an official source said.
However, the official added that Chetia would have to face trials for cases registered against him after he returns. Besides being member of a militant group, Chetia is also wanted for the 1989 murder of the wife, driver and personal security officer of former Dibrugarh SP A K Mallick.
After India and Bangladesh signed an extradition treaty last year, both governments have discussed several such exchanges. It was reported that Bangladesh wanted two of its ‘most wanted’ criminals, Subrata Bain and Sajjad Hossain, in exchange for Chetia. Both Bain and Hossain are accused of ‘waging war’ against Bangladesh.
However, the Paresh Baruah-faction has condemned the move and urged the Bangladesh government to not use Chetia’s request for voluntary repatriation as a bargaining tool.