Sunday, February 20, 2005

BANGLADESH: Anup Chetia extradition - Two govts may discuss it if there is official request

+ A highly placed source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka told The New Nation last night that India sought extradition of Anup Chetia since his arrest in December 1997 when the Awami League was in power. The matter might be discussed between the two countries if official communication was available, the source said with request not to be named. He said that the ULFA leader is serving a prison term, and declined to speculate on what might be done after his prison term ends +

18/02/2005

Two govts may discuss it if there is official request: Foreign Ministry source: India wants Anup Chetia extradited

India is mounting pressure on Bangladesh to extradite a top separatist leader Anup Chetia who completes a seven-year jail term next week, according to a message reaching Dhaka from New Delhi.

An Indian home ministry official is quoted to have said New Delhi has requested Dhaka to hand over 54-year-old Anup Chetia, alias Golap Baruah, general secretary of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), to Indian authorities. Chetia, currently in a Dhaka jail, completes his prison term on Feb 25.

The ULFA is a rebel group fighting for an independent Assamese homeland in the northeastern state of Assam since 1979.

"Chetia has a red corner notice served in his name and is wanted by Interpol New Delhi. He is wanted on an arrest warrant issued on March 3, 1997, by the judicial authorities in Guwahati for terrorist activities," the Indian Home Ministry official is quoted to have said.

"We have urged Dhaka to extradite him," said the official according to the message. India and Bangladesh, however, do not have any extradition treaty as yet although the two countries have agreed to jointly fight terrorism.

A highly placed source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka told The New Nation last night that India sought extradition of Anup Chetia since his arrest in December 1997 when the Awami League was in power. The matter might be discussed between the two countries if official communication was available, the source said with request not to be named.

He said that the ULFA leader is serving a prison term, and declined to speculate on what might be done after his prison term ends

Chetia, who figures in India's list of 'most wanted' people, was arrested in Dhaka on Dec 21, 1997, on charges of illegal entry into Bangladesh, possession of two forged Bangladeshi passports, an unauthorised satellite phone, and illegal foreign currencies of countries like the US, Britain, Thailand, Spain and Belgium.

The rebel leader has, meanwhile, prayed for political asylum in Bangladesh, saying he was "fighting for freedom" in Assam and had entered the neighbouring country to escape Indian security forces.

Several leading Bangladeshi rights groups and lawyers have started mobilising support to pressurise Dhaka not to hand over Chetia to Indian authorities when he completes his jail term next week.

"The Bangladesh government will have to first hear Chetia's plea for political asylum. Handing him over to Indian authorities will be a tough task as India has strict prosecution laws," said Sigma Huda, a senior lawyer and secretary general of the Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights. "There is an option of handing him over to a third country," she said, according to the message.

In Assam, Chetia could face possible life imprisonment if found guilty on the charges of killing, extortion and kidnapping.

The message from Delhi quoted a security expert as saying, "Dhaka might play safe by re-arresting him on new charges rather than handing over to India due to pressure from human rights activists within the country."