India Extradites Assamese Separatist Chetia from Bangladesh

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
151111-BD-extradition-620 Anup Chetia, an arrested leader of the United Liberation Front of Asom leader, arrives at a court in Dhaka, Sept. 24, 2002.

Analysts are hailing Dhaka’s handover to India on Wednesday of Assamese separatist leader Anup Chetia – nearly 18 years after he was arrested in Bangladesh – as a milestone in Indo-Bangladeshi relations.

“This handover is surely another step forward in the improvement of the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India. India has been demanding him for years,” career diplomat Q.A.M.A. Rahim, a former secretary-general of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), told BenarNews.

“He had been one of the most wanted men of India. So, this handover shows Bangladesh’s seriousness in the fight against terrorism,” Delwar Hossain, a professor of international relations at Dhaka University, said in an interview with BenarNews.

Chetia (also known as Golap Baruah), a founder and general secretary of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), an armed separatist group in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, was deported to India along with Babul Sharma and Shakti Prashad, two other ULFA leaders who were in Bangladeshi custody. Chetia is wanted in India for killings, abductions and extortion committed in ULFA’s name.

“He has been sent back to India as he has finished his jail terms,” Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters. At first, the home minister denied reports from the Press Trust of India that Bangladesh had handed Chetia and the two other Assamese over to the Indian high commission in Dhaka.

Soon after Chetia’s extradition, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked his Bangladesh counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, for helping India fight terrorism, according to the Modi’s office.

Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said Chetia’s extradition would help with police investigations.

“Chetia is a top leader of ULFA and his handing over will lead to the cracking of many cases. The central agencies and the Assam Police will investigate him,” Rijiju told reporters, according to the Hindustan Times.

Wanted back home

Arrested in Bangladesh in 1997, Chetia was sentenced to seven years in prison for trespassing into Bangladesh, possessing illegal passports, currencies and a satellite phone, which was banned at the time. He remained in a Bangladeshi cell after serving out his sentence.

Chetia’s arrest in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur area substantiated Indian allegations that the ULFA and other Indian separatist groups were active in Bangladesh, officials claim.

In recent months, Bangladeshi officials say they have increased efforts to prevent northeastern Indian separatists from crossing the border and establishing sanctuaries on the Bangladeshi side. The Indian government had long complained to Bangladeshi officials that separatist groups were mounting cross-border attacks and then retreating to havens inside Bangladesh.

Chetia faces terrorism and other charges in his home state of Assam, one of the seven northeastern states virtually cut off from the rest of India by Bangladesh.

India and had no extradition treaty until 2013, when they signed one that cleared the way for Chetia’s deportation.

He had applied for but was denied political asylum in Bangladesh in 2005, 2008 and 2011. In 2007, he applied to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for refugee status in a third country, and, in August 2014, he announced his intention to return to India.


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