India says Bangladesh hands over Indian rebel leader
GAUHATI, India (AP) — Bangladesh on Friday handed over a jailed Indian rebel leader whose group has been fighting to free the northeastern Indian state of Assam from New Delhi’s rule, officials said.
Anup Chetia, a leader of the banned United Liberation Front of Assam, was being brought to India from Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, by a team of Indian federal investigators, Kiren Rijiju, India’s junior home minister, told reporters.
Chetia was arrested along with two associates in 1997 in Dhaka. They were convicted of illegally staying in Bangladesh and possessing fake passports, unauthorized foreign currencies and a satellite phone. Although Chetia completed his prison term of seven years, he was kept in a prison as his request for asylum was pending with the Bangladesh government.
On Wednesday, Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal confirmed that Chetia has been handed over to India. “Yes, we have handed him over to India as per his wish that he wants to go home after completing his jail term here.”
The Press Trust of India news agency said Chetia was wanted for killings, abductions, bank robberies and extortion in India. Chetia fled India in the early 1990s and was living in Bangladesh where his group had a base.
Rijiju said India and Bangladesh have been cooperating on security matters following an intervention by the prime ministers of the countries.
Bangladesh has handed over several ULFA leaders, including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, to India since 2010. India is currently holding peace talks with Rajkhowa. It is not known if Chetia will also join efforts by New Delhi to settle the insurgency in Assam state.
However, another ULFA group, headed by Paresh Baruah, is opposed to peace talks with the Indian government. He is believed to be hiding in the Myanmar-China border area.
Associated Press writer Julhas Alam in Dhaka contributed to this report.