New Delhi, Jan. 23: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) intends to hit two birds with an FIR filed recently — go after Paresh Barua, the “commander-in-chief” of Ulfa (Independent), and facilitate return of Anup Chetia from Bangladesh.
What investigators called a “doubled-edged” tool, the FIR was filed by the NIA’s Guwahati cell against the Myanmar-based Barua and his mentor, Ulfa general secretary Chetia.
Sources said the involvement of the federal agency would give security agencies, including Assam police, and the government a much wider scope of action. The FIR by NIA would allow them to take into custody any member or linkman of Ulfa (I) acting at the behest of Barua, slap charges against them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (so far charges were slapped under IPC, now the IPC sections will be read with the UAPA) and let the apex terror probe agency investigate the case.
The “omnibus” FIR was filed after several meetings between officials of the NIA and the ministry of home affairs and has been accepted by the court.
“More importantly, it will help us extradite Chetia from Bangladesh,” said a source in the home ministry while conceding that it is a long procedure. The extradition treaty between India and Bangladesh was signed in Dhaka on January 28, 2013, during the visit of Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to that country.
A senior Ulfa (pro-talks) leader said from Guwahati that the ball was in the courts of the governments of the two countries. He said relevant papers had been handed over by New Delhi to Dhaka and it was up to the Bangladesh government to act. The leader denied that Chetia had any intention of extending his asylum in Bangladesh.
“Anup Chetia wants to return and participate in the talks (with Arabinda Rajkhowa’s group) and it will certainly be an advantage if he comes,” the leader said.
Once the case reaches an NIA special court, a warrant can be issued against Chetia. This warrant will be forwarded by the home ministry to the external affairs ministry, which will then put it up before Bangladesh authorities. A Bangladesh court can then allow extradition of the Ulfa leader.
Barua is based in Myanmar and has loyal cadres with him. He has been accused of killing two militants, including a woman, besides engaging in terrorist activities in Upper Assam and gun-running through the grey markets along the Myanmar-China border.
The NIA is investigating over 25 cases in the Northeast, the most in any geographical area. Another prominent case relates to Anthony Shimray, a senior leader of the NSCN (Isak-Muivah). Shimray is in jail on several counts, including gun-running and money laundering.