New Delhi, June 21: Ulfa leader Anup Chetia’s decision to return to India will be known soon after mediator Rebati Phukan meets him in Dhaka this week.
The possibility of Chetia returning to India and participating in the peace talks now seems real.
Once Phukan meets the Ulfa leader who is in “protective custody” of Bangladesh government, it will be clear when and how Chetia wants to return to his home country.
A formal announcement of a suspension of operations and of willingness for peace talks is probably been held back for Chetia’s decision.
“There is hope that he will return soon,” said a source, who hinted that there were feelers from Chetia that he wanted to join the peace process. “The picture will be clear by Saturday or Sunday,” the source added.
Phukan could not be contacted on his mobile phone.
Sources said one of the reasons Chetia could decide to return to India was that Bangladesh had turned down his application for asylum. They said Chetia could also attempt to flee to a country like Thailand to seek asylum but Indian security agencies feel that before he attempts to flee, he may be “deported” to India.
However, he has not been deported so far because Dhaka is extremely cautious in dealing with Chetia who was arrested in 1997 in Bangladesh while carrying foreign currency and a satellite phone. Indian authorities said they also had the option of flashing evidence to show that Chetia alias Golap Barua was an Indian citizen to get him deported.
If Phukan is able to convince Chetia to return, then by the weekend the Ulfa may well make a formal announcement of its intent to hold peace talks with the Centre.
It will be after this formality that the joint secretary (North East) in the ministry of home affairs will fly to Guwahati to sign the suspension of operations agreement.
Phukan was last month chosen as a “neutral” person by Ulfa to speak to Chetia. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had also given his consent to Ulfa’s idea of including Chetia in the peace talks.
No sooner than this development takes place, Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua’s isolation from Assam’s rebel politics would be complete.
Barua is said to be living in Mytkina area in Myanmar, close to the border with China’s Yunnan province.