ULFA's Anup Chetia may be handed to India soon
United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) general secretary Anup Chetia alias Golap Baruah may be handed over to India soon, Arabinda Rajkhowa, leader of the pro-talks ULFA faction, has said.
"There are strong indications that Chetia may soon come and join us," Rajkhowa said.
After years of his operating from Bangladesh, the Bangladesh authorities arrested Chetia in 1997 on charges of illegally staying in that country, possessing forced passports and foreign currency. After ending his prison term in 2004, he sought political asylum in Bangladesh.
Since his arrest, India has been asking the Bangladesh government to hand over Chetia in different bilateral meeting. Despite efforts by New Delhi, his deportation has not fructified due to various legal issues pending in Bangladeshi courts.
The Union home ministry has already said that it would welcome Chetia's participation in the ongoing talks although home secretary RK Singh said Chetia's issue was still pending in courts in Dhaka and New Delhi would deal it with legally.
Sometime back, the government had also facilitated a pro-talks ULFA delegation to go to Dhaka to convince Chetia to join the talks.
Chetia is considered to wield considerable clout within the ULFA as well as with Paresh Barua, who continues to lead hundreds of heavily-armed fighters from his camps in the Myanmar-China border and remains steadfast in his opposition to any kind of negotiations with the government.
Rajkhowa also expressed his satisfaction with the talks on Thursday which included a point-by-point discussion with the government on the group's charter of demands and a "political solution" to over three-decade-old insurgency problem in Assam.
Both sides discussed various aspects of the group's 'charter of demands' which seek amendment in the Constitution for finding "meaningful" ways to protect the rights and identity of the indigenous people of Assam, sources said.
The ULFA team also met home minister Sushilkumar Shinde for the first time after he assumed the home ministry charge.
ULFA was formed in Sivasgar in 1979 with complete sovereignty and independence of Assam as its avowed goal. More than 12,000 people have lost their lives in Assam in the more than three-decade long insurgency.