India, Bangladesh finalise 3 pacts as ULFA chief held (Lead)December 2nd, 2009 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Bangladeshi authorities arrested United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) founder Arabinda Rajkhowa and handed him over to India while the two countries finalised three crucial accords in the area of counter-terrorism and security cooperation ahead of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi.
Chairman of the insurgent ULFA Arabinda Rajkhowa was arrested in Bangladesh and handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF) in Tripura by Bangladesh authorities, dealing a crippling blow to the banned outfit, officials said in Guwahati Wednesday.
A senior intelligence official said Bangladesh security forces handed over Rajkhowa to BSF commanders at the Gokul Nagar border outpost in Tripura. The BSF then arrested him.
The 56-year-old Rajkhowa was in Bangladesh for close to two decades now, operating out of bases in that country to carry out the outfit’s hit-and-run guerrilla strikes in Assam.
Rajkhowa was picked up by Bangladesh Police Special Branch at least three days ago and the incident was kept under wraps, sources said.
The news of Rajkhowa’s arrest coincided with the three-day talks between home secretaries of India and Bangladesh that ended in New Delhi Wednesday.
After the talks, the two sides announced they have finalised three crucial accords, including one for combating terrorism and the transfer of prisoners. They also agreed to resolve the issues relating to their land boundary.
Terrorism dominated the discussions, with both sides stressing “immediate action on the basis of real time and actionable information.”
“Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and reaffirmed their commitment not to allow the use of territory of either country for any activity inimical to each other’s interests,” said a joint press release.
The finalisation of drafts of the three agreements marks a major confidence-building step to address the issue of terrorist leaders sheltering in Bangladesh that had marred relations between the two neighbours.
The three agreements were finalised after wide-ranging talks between Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and his Bangladeshi counterpart Abdus Sobhan Sikder.
These relate to mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, combating international terrorism and transfer of sentenced persons. the agreements will be signed during the three-day visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India starting Dec 18.
The agreements will help India get access to leaders of northeast insurgent groups like the outlawed ULFA and other terrorists who are engaged in anti-India activities and operating from Bangladeshi territory.
Pillai thanked Bangladeshi authorities for taking prompt steps to prevent likely attacks on the Indian mission in Dhaka.
In a slew of steps aimed at expanding security cooperation, the two sides agreed to develop mechanisms to further hasten the process of verification of nationality status of prisoners lodged in jails of either country, specially those who have completed their sentence.
The Indian side expressed its concerns over the smuggling of fake Indian currency notes into India and sought the cooperation of Bangladeshi authorities in preventing such activities, said the statement.
The next home secretary-level talks will be held in Dhaka.
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Tags: assam, border security force, bsf, combating terrorism, confidence building, counter terrorism, finalised, gokul nagar, guerrilla, guwahati, intelligence official, land boundary, least three days, minister sheikh hasina, pacts, secretaries, security cooperation, security forces, tripura, united liberation front