Bangladesh on Saturday said ULFA leader Paresh Barua is "no longer staying" in its territory, implicitly admitting for the first time about his presence there.
"Paresh Barua is no longer staying in Bangladesh. We don't harbour any Indian terrorist or criminal in our territory," Director General of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Major General Shakil Ahmed said at a joint press conference in New Delhi with Director General of Border Security Force (BSF) A K Mitra after a border coordination conference.
Dhaka has maintained that Barua, against whom Interpol issued a red corner notice in 1997, was not staying in Bangladesh. Barua is said to have some business interests in Bangladesh.
New Delhi believes that the 51-year-old ULFA leader is under the protective custody of Bangladesh and has made several representations to Dhaka to hand him over.
Barua is spearheading the ULFA fight for a separate homeland in Assam.
"If we find Indian criminals staying in Bangladesh, we are ready to hand them over to Indian authorities," Ahmed said.
He said insurgency in India's northeast was a "threat" to Bangladesh's peace and it did not support or harbour militant groups or their leaders.
"Under no circumstances we want to support insurgency. Terrorists and insurgency in the northeast is a threat to Bangladesh. We don't want insurgency in the region because it spills over to Bangladesh. There is no question of any camp being set up and run in Bangladesh," he said.
However, New Delhi maintains that there are 117 camps of northeastern militant groups still operating from Bangladeshi territory.