Monday, February 14, 2005

INDIA: Dispur jittery over Chetia

+ The Ulfa general secretary’s prison term ends on February 25 and the general perception here is that Khaleda Zia’s ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is not keen to hand over the militant leader to India. “According to our own sources, the Bangladesh government will not hand over the Ulfa leader to India,” said a senior Assam police official. “The prospect is worrisome for us. Chetia’s release will give the Ulfa a big boost. He has been with the outfit since its inception and his presence will make a huge difference for them while formulating strategies and executing them. Besides, it will boost the morale of the cadre.” +

Dispur jittery over Chetia


Guwahati, Feb. 13: Top Ulfa leader Anup Chetia’s imminent release from a Bangladeshi jail has become a source of worry for security forces in Assam with many believing the militant outfit will get a fillip if Dhaka refuses to extradite him to India.

The Ulfa general secretary’s prison term ends on February 25 and the general perception here is that Khaleda Zia’s ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is not keen to hand over the militant leader to India.

“According to our own sources, the Bangladesh government will not hand over the Ulfa leader to India,” said a senior Assam police official.

“The prospect is worrisome for us. Chetia’s release will give the Ulfa a big boost. He has been with the outfit since its inception and his presence will make a huge difference for them while formulating strategies and executing them. Besides, it will boost the morale of the cadre.”

The police official said Chetia — his real name is Golap Baruah — had good organisational skills. “He can give a new direction to the outfit by revitalising its units. He is the man who helped the outfit grow in its initial stages. Chetia is the man the Ulfa needs at this moment.”

Home commissioner B.K. Gohain revealed that Dispur had already made a strong case for his extradition. “We have forwarded all necessary documents to the Centre. We have to now wait and see what happens.”

Intelligence sources said the timing of Chetia’s release was crucial for the Ulfa. “Even if they are not willing to admit it, the fact is that the Bhutan operations did deal a blow to the outfit and it has been weakened. Chetia’s return to the outfit would certainly help it,” he said.

On the other hand, there are also apprehensions in Dispur that if Chetia rejoins the outfit, a new situation could arise vis-à-vis the Ulfa’s peace talks with Delhi.

“The psychological boost the outfit will get with Chetia’s return will definitely be reflected on the talks process, that is, if it is serious about it,” said a police official attached to the special branch.

“Now that Chetia could be back, the outfit might well change its tactics and shed whatever little desire it had for parleys,” he argued.

He, however, insisted that Chetia’s return would not immediately impact on the talks. It would only have a long-term effect. “If Chetia is extradited, it would demoralise the leadership,” he added.

He pointed out that it would have been easy to convince a demoralised leadership on the need to start a dialogue.