Dhaka to follow pushback formula - Bangladesh to detain, not arrest

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By Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 9.11.09
Ulfa leaders Chitrabon Hazarika (left) and Sasha Choudhury at the CJM court in Guwahati on Saturday. Picture by Eastern Projections

Guwahati, Nov. 8: Delhi and Dhaka have reached a tacit understanding which will ensure that the Northeast rebels based in the neighbouring country will be simply picked up and handed over to India, a top home ministry source said today.

“This will be the trend from now,” the source said over phone from Delhi against the backdrop of the capture of Ulfa’s “finance secretary” Chitrabon Hazarika and its “foreign secretary” Sasha Choudhury and their handover to India.

“We have an understanding in place now by which Bangladesh will not arrest any militant based in the country. They will simply detain them and hand them over to us in the manner most suited at the time,” the source said.

The formality of arrest has stood in the way of India getting back the men wanted in this country as Dhaka and Delhi do not have an extradition treaty.

“Once someone is arrested, the extradition treaty comes into play but, at this moment we do not have one. That is why India has not been able to pursue the handover of Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia who was arrested way back in 1997,” the source said.

The recent understanding between the two countries was possible after a pro-India government took over under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh.

The previous Khaleda Zia government had refused to act against Northeast militants based in the country. Begum Zia had once even termed Ulfa cadres “freedom fighters” and pledged to support them.

The source said after Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League returned to power in the elections held in December last year, India opened diplomatic channels with Dhaka seeking “visible action” against the Northeast rebels, mainly Ulfa and the Ranjan Daimary faction of the NDFB. At the time of their “detention”, Hazarika was living under the name of Ashfaqul Hossein while Choudhury was known as Rafiqul Islam. Both were picked up from a house in the Uttara area of Dhaka.

“Officially, however, there is no mention of any detention in Dhaka and Bangladesh can also safely say that its government had nothing to do with the arrest of the two Ulfa leaders,” the home ministry official added.

Other top-rung Ulfa leaders, like the outfit’s chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, its commander-in-chief Paresh Barua and his deputy Raju Barua are also said to be based in Bangladesh.

“Rajkhowa and Barua are definitely in Bangladesh. They are not in a position to shift base from that country... they are deeply embedded there because of their business interests,” the source added.

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