Musharraf met Indian militant in Dhaka: Bangladesh minister

January 9th, 2010 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, Jan 9 (IANS) On the eve of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s trip to New Delhi, a Bangladesh minister has alleged that then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf met an Indian militant during an official visit here.
The alleged meeting with United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) leader Anup Chetia, facilitated by the then government of prime minister Khaleda Zia, took place in July 2002 in Musharraf’s hotel room.

It lasted 90 minutes, local government minister Syed Ashraful Islam, who is also general secretary of the ruling Awami League, said during a round table on Bangladesh-India bilateral relations.

There was no word from Zia, but Khandaker Delwar Hossain, secretary general of her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), called the allegation “irresponsible”.

“Pervez Musharraf had a one and a half hour meeting with detained UFLA leader Anup Chetia at his hotel room during a visit when BNP and (Jamaat-e-Islami) were in power,” the minister said.

“You can guess what had been discussed in such a long meeting,” bdnews24 website quoted him as saying.

Chetia, secretary general of ULFA, is currently detained in a Bangladesh jail since his arrest in 1998.

He was convicted for travelling with fake documents and jailed for four years. However he has not been handed over to India because of the absence of an extradition treaty.

A NGO headed by the wife of a minister in the then Zia government campaigned for his continued stay in Bangladesh.

Chetia is not covered by a treaty that Bangladesh and India are slated to sign in New Delhi nest week.

India has for long alleged that separatist groups from its northeastern region operate from Bangladesh and that the operations are coordinated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

While Dhaka has in the past denied the existence of these groups, the Hasina government has been pro-active in tacitly arranging their deportment.

Seven top ULFA leaders, including its chief, Arabindas Rajkhowa, have been nabbed by Indian authorities in recent weeks.

The ULFA has been pursuing an armed struggle since 1979 with the professed objective of liberating the northeastern Indian state of Assam from what they term as New Delhi’s “colonial rule”.

The minister also said that 10 truckload of weapons offloaded in Chittagong port in 2004 and 30 million bullets in Bogra in Bangladesh were actually meant for use by ULFA.

Two former army generals who headed intelligence organisations during the Zia regime are under arrest and currently being tried for these incidents.

Blaming BNP and its allies for derailing ties with India, Ashraful Islam said the media had reported at that time that Taliban militants trained in Afghanistan entered India through Chittagong port.

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