New Delhi, May 19: A person returning from a business trip in China has been held in Bangladesh, prompting the Indian government to verify whether he is Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua.
Officials in India and Bangladesh are moving with extreme caution — almost a fortnight has passed since the arrest — as several similar alerts had turned out to be false alarms earlier.
Unconfirmed reports also said Anup Chetia, a close aide of Paresh Barua, who had been in Bangladesh for over 10 years now, was handed over to Indian authorities in New Delhi tonight.
Sections in the security establishment want to double-check the identity of the suspect in Bangladesh, a difficult task, considering the sketchy details about Paresh Baruas current physical description. Agencies in India so far were depending on a photograph that is more than 15 years old.
Another section in the Indian security establishment believes that the arrested man is Paresh Barua. Modalities are being worked out on how, when and where the suspect would be handed over to Indian authorities, a source said.
But the same source conceded: Even we are unaware when exactly he would be handed over. Usually, the authorities — in most cases, its the BSF in Meghalaya — are informed of an operation only hours before a handover.
If the suspect is indeed Paresh Barua, the chances of a transfer are brighter now because of the change of guard in Bangladesh. The Sheikh Hasina government had handed over Ulfa leader Arabinda Rajkhowa and NDFB chief Ranjan Daimary recently.
Since the arrest and handover of Rajkhowa and Raju Barua, two of his closest aides, last year, Paresh Barua was isolated. He went to China to buy arms from a local company last year and shuttled between Ulfa camps in Myanmar and Yunan province of China.
Early this month, he is believed to have entered Bangladesh through Teknaf subdivision in the Coxs Bazar area of southern Bangladesh.
The sources said the person suspected to be Paresh Barua has been lodged in a safe house somewhere close to the Indian border in the east. He was being questioned by the Bangladesh intelligence agency, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI).
The Ulfa commander-in-chief has been absconding since 1990 when he made Bangladesh his permanent home. He has several cases against his name in India and Bangladesh where he has business interests valued at Rs 500 crore, according to intelligence sources.