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Chetia tops border agenda

Shillong, Aug. 29: Issues like unabated illegal migration, Bangladesh’s alleged resistance to the border fencing project and crime along the border took the back seat to India’s demand for the extradition of jailed Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia on the first day of the Border Security Force-Bangladesh Rifles conference in the Meghalaya capital.

The BSF delegation, led by inspector-general S.K. Dutta, tried hard to convince the Bangladesh team about the importance of turning Chetia over to India “as soon as possible”. The Bangladesh Rifles delegation, headed by Brig. Gen. S.M. Golam Rabbani, responded by offering “to take up the issue seriously” with the home ministry.

Arrested in Dhaka on December 21, 1997 on charges of illegal entry and possession of two forged passports, an unauthorised satellite phone and foreign currency, the Ulfa leader’s jail term ended last year but the government has yet to take a decision on extraditing him. He is said to have sought “political asylum” in Bangladesh.

Dutta told the media at the end of the first session of the conference that the discussions had been “fruitful”. He admitted that the focus of the talks was on Chetia.

The BSF officer said he was optimistic that unlike other meetings between the border forces of the two neighbours, the ongoing conference would not end in acrimony. He said today’s discussion mar-ked “a forward movement” towards convincing Bangladesh to stop providing training and shelter to militant groups.

Dutta said a fresh list of militant groups and their hideouts/training camps in Bangladesh was given to the visiting team.

Whether the recent skirmish between border troops in the south Assam sector was discussed, the BSF officer said: “We took it up strongly.”

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