Top ULFA militant Anup Chetia may be handed over by Bangladesh as early as next week with decks being cleared for extradition of two top Bangladeshi criminals now in Indian jails to facilitate the repatriation.
According to officials,Bangladesh had sought the extradition of Subrata Bain and Sajjad Hossain in exchange for Chetia. Bain was arrested in Kolkata last year on charges of carrying fake currency and illegal arms,and for illegal immigration. He had been arrested in Nepal earlier but had managed to escape. He is currently in a Kolkata prison.
Hossain,who is lodged in Delhis Tihar Jail,is wanted in several cases of murder in Bangladesh.
The Awami League government of Bangladesh contends that Bain and Hossain were involved in attacks that targeted its top leadership. Bain is an accused in the 2004 grenade attack on a rally of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Officials revealed that Chetia has been moved from his current location in a Dhaka jail,indicating that the process of moving him to India had been initiated. The former ULFA general secretary was arrested in Bangladesh in 1997. He had sought political asylum there but dropped the request and agreed to return to India after the Centre initiated talks with the ULFA leadership. He is likely to join the ongoing talks between the government and the Arabinda Rajkhowa faction of ULFA.
The exchange of Bain and Hossain for Chetia has become possible as India and Bangladesh signed an extradition treaty earlier this year during Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shindes visit to Dhaka.
Home Ministry officials asserted that paperwork for the extradition of Bain and Hossain,including their identification as Bangladeshis,had been done and the requisite court orders obtained.
There were suggestions earlier that Dhaka was attempting to use Chetias extradition to extract concessions from New Delhi,including the land boundary agreement and firming up of schedules for signing of the Teesta water sharing pact.