New Delhi, Aug. 17: Hopes are afloat in the home ministry on Ulfa leader Anup Chetia’s return as the UPA government prepares to introduce a bill to ratify the India-Bangladesh land boundary agreement on Monday.
Chetia’s return to India was imminent in July but Dhaka took a firm stand on the deportation, asking in return India’s ratification of the border agreement, which is an important poll issue for the Awami League government. Bangladesh elections are due early next year.
“The deportation papers are ready, he (Chetia) needs to be put aboard a plane and sent by Bangladeshi authorities. We hope the introduction (of the bill) will enable the Ulfa leader to return,” a senior government official said.
If the deportation takes place, the Ulfa general secretary will be first brought to New Delhi for debriefing by intelligence agencies and then produced in court in Guwahati, sources said.
During the home secretary level talks last month, the two sides had agreed to exchange high-profile prisoners. But Dhaka put a caveat for Chetia’s return as pressure mounted on Bangladesh government that it was bending over backwards to help India while New Delhi dithered on ratifying the treaty.
External affairs minister Salman Khurshid will introduce the 119th Constitutional Amendment Bill on Monday.
The BJP, which was earlier opposed to the introduction of the bill, has come around to allowing its introduction in the interest of bilateral ties with Dhaka. Top BJP leaders, including its general secretary in-charge of Assam and Bengal, Varun Gandhi, decided to support the introduction of the bill after deliberations with UPA ministers and among themselves last week, sources said.
Passage to the bill will give effect to the 1974 land boundary agreement and its protocol entered into on September 6, 2011 by the two countries.
In Assam, introduction of the bill and Chetia’s return hold significance. The BJP’s state unit and the AGP are opposing the bill, arguing that Assam will lose land in exchange of territories. According to the 2011 Protocol, a boundary is to be drawn in Boroibari and Pallathal where 2267.682 acres will be transferred to Bangladesh.
A permanent settlement of the boundary dispute will help facilitate better ties between Dhaka and New Delhi and help Dispur get rid of Ulfa insurgency more holistically.
Chetia is expected to join the Centre-Ulfa (pro talks) negotiations. His deportation was made possible after he withdrew his plea for asylum in Bangladesh.