Two top ULFA leaders arrested in Bangladesh

November 5th, 2009 - 11:42 am ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Guwahati, Nov 5 (IANS) The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), an influential separatist group has claimed that two of its top leaders were arrested in Bangladesh and then handed over to India, a spokesperson for the outlawed group said. There is, however, no confirmation from Dhaka or New Delhi.
The spokesperson said the outfit’s foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury and finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika were picked up by Bangladeshi intelligence sleuths at midnight Sunday from a house in Dhaka’s Uttara area.

“Seven to eight people in civvies took the two leaders saying the duo were being summoned for some interrogation by senior officials. After that there was no information of them and we suspect they might have been handed over to our enemies (meaning India),” ULFA’s military spokesperson Raju Baruah told the local media via telephone and email.

Assam police and Indian intelligence officials expressed ignorance about the reports.

“We do not know anything about the developments if any. We have also not heard anything from Dhaka about any arrests being made,” a home ministry official said.

New Delhi had in the past repeatedly claimed that northeast militants were operating out of bases in Bangladesh with several of their top leaders staying in safe houses in Dhaka. Bangladesh had earlier denied such allegations.

However, the new Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina assured New Delhi of all support and cooperation to evict any Indian separatists from Bangladesh.

Last month, Bangladeshi State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku was quoted by their country’s media that the government had directed the law enforcement agencies to crack down on ULFA bases in view of intelligence reports that the outfit was planning major strikes in Dhaka.

A top ULFA leader Amal Das was arrested by security forces in Dhaka last month, as part of a crackdown, media reports from Bangladesh said.

India and Bangladesh do not have an extradition treaty.

ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia — in a Dhaka prison since 1997 — is in Bangladesh due to the absence of any extradition agreement between the two countries, despite New Delhi’s formal appeals to hand him over for trial in India.

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