Chetia likely to be handed over to India by Dec end

New Delhi: Top ULFA leader Anup Chetia, currently lodged in a jail in Bangladesh, is likely to be handed over to India by the end of this year.

This indication was given by Dhaka saying the procedure to repatriate Chetia was underway, a senior government official told PTI. The issue has been flagged to Dhaka and will be discussed at the three-day India-Bangladesh Home Secretary-level talks beginning in Dhaka on October 14.

Last week, Bangladesh Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, soon after taking charge of the portfolio, had said his country was exhausting all legal procedures to hand over Chetia to India.

The repatriation process of ULFA ‘general secretary’, who has served out his imprisonment in Bangladesh, began “several months ago and is yet to be completed”.

Chetia 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 still being 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 prayer seeking political asylum in Bangladesh.

An NGO too had filed a petition in a court there supporting Chetia’s plea for asylum. India and Bangladesh do not have any extradition treaty but are bound by a pact for exchanging imprisoned nationals in each other’s jails.

Taking bilateral security cooperation to a new high, several ULFA stalwarts, including its chief Arabinda Rajkhowa, were detained in Bangladesh and subsequently handed over to India in recent years.

During the Home Secretary-level talks, India and Bangladesh may ink the extradition treaty, negotiations for which has been going on for several years now. Union Home Secretary R K Singh will also travel to Akhaura soon after reaching Dhaka on October 15 before returning to Bangladeshi capital for talks the next day.

A meeting of Joint Working Group at the level of officials will be held on October 14 to do the spadework for the Secretary-level talks.