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Arrested ULFA men get 10 days police custody

By K Anurag
Last updated on: November 07, 2009 19:28 IST
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The court of chief judicial magistrate in Kamrup, Guwahati, remanded top United Liberation Front of Assam leaders Sashadhar Chowdhury and Chitraban Hazarika to 10 days' police custody after they were produced before the court by the Assam police in the afternoon amid tight security.

Meanwhile, the proscribed chairman of the banned ULFA, Arabinda Rajkhowa, in a statement issued to the media called for 12-hour Assam bandh from 6 am on November 9 in protest against the arrest of the two leaders from Bangladesh, and termed it a ploy to solve the vexed "India-Assam" conflict through military mans.

The counsel of the ULFA leaders, Bijon Mahajan, said CJM Robin Phukon had remanded the two ULFA men to 10 days police custody, while the Assam police had pleaded for 14 days custody.

The two ULFA leaders, who were believed to be in Bangladesh for a long time, are wanted in many cases in Assam. The police had earlier issued a red corner warrant against ULFA 'foreign secretary' Sashadhar Chowdhury.

The special branch of the Assam police is interrogating the two accused and will be joined by sleuths from the central intelligence agencies soon.

Bangladesh has launched a major crackdown on ULFA militants operating from its soil by apprehending the two leaders and subsequently pushing them into Indian territory, from where the BSF took the duo into custody.

BSF officials, however, insisted that the ULFA leaders have surrendered to them after fleeing Dhaka following an "internal clash" among the cadres.

The development comes a month ahead of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's proposed visit to India and four months after Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni assured Indian leaders that tough action would be taken against militant groups, if any, operating from that country.

Sources said the ULFA leaders were picked up by Bangladeshi security agencies from Dhaka on Sunday night and pushed into India as a "good gesture" by the Sheikh Hasina government.

Sources said since India and Bangladesh do not have any extradition treaty, the process of handing over each other's wanted criminals had always been cumbersome. They cited the example of ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia, who despite being arrested in 1997 in Dhaka, is yet to be handed over to India due to legal complications.

In a deputy director general-level meeting with Bangladesh Rifles in Sylhet (Bangladesh) on Friday, the BSF had given a list of 104 camps of Indian insurgent groups operating in Bangladesh.

Indian security agencies had been claiming that the ULFA, formed in 1979 to fight for a sovereign Assam, had been using its bases in the neighbouring country to launch subversive activities in India.

ULFA 'vice chairman' Pradip Gogoi, arrested in 1998, is currently in a jail in Guwahati, 'general secretary' Anup Chetia is under detention in Dhaka since 1997, while the outfit's founding member Bhimakanta Buragohain, 'publicity secretary' Mithinga Daimary and 'assistant secretary' Bolin Das were arrested during the military operations in Bhutan in December 2003.

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K Anurag in Guwahati
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