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ULFA chief held in B’desh
Bijay Sankar Bora|
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 2
In the most serious setback that has been suffered by the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) in recent times, its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa was arrested by Bangladeshi agencies somewhere near Dhaka in Bangladesh on Monday night. He was flown to New Delhi late this evening.

The arrest which came close on the heels of November 5 night arrest of another two top leaders of the outfit, Sashadhar Choudhury and Chitrabon Hazarika, in Dhaka indicated that the outfit’s sanctuary in Bangladesh was in serious danger. Though no official confirmation about the ULFA chairman’s arrest is forthcoming either from Dhaka or New Delhi, a senior Assam police official on condition of anonymity said there was information about the ULFA chairman’s arrest in Bangladesh.

With Rajkhowa’s arrest, only two major leaders of the outfit, self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Barua and deputy commander in chief Raju Baruah, are now at large. Another top leader, general secretary Anup Chetia, alias Golap Barua, is lodged in a jail in Bangladesh.

Arabinda Rajkhowa (53) whose real name is Rajib Rajkonwar, has been the chairman of the ULFA since early 1980s and was one of the founder leaders of the ULFA. Few days before his arrest in Bangladesh, a statement issued by the ULFA with signature of Rajkhowa flayed Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s statement made in Rajya Sabha ruling out possibility of talks with the ULFA unless the outfit gave up arms and the demand for ‘sovereignty’ of Assam.

The ULFA chairman in the statement said the outfit was not begging for talks with government of India to save lives of its leaders but it wanted a negotiated political solution to the conflict.The arrested ULFA chairman, who studied up to Class XII, is the second of three sons of freedom fighter Umakanta Rajkonwar who passed away three years ago at the age of 101 years. He hails from Lakwa in Sivasagar district of Upper Assam.

Rajkhowa also has an Interpol red corner notice against him, issued on June 4, 1997 for his involvement in several heinous crimes. Out of India since 1992, Rajkhowa is known to keep travelling to Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand, Bhutan, Pakistan and other countries on fake identity and fake passports.

He was trained under Kachin Independence Army in Myanmar and National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN). He can handle all types of arms. He is also the vice-president of the Indo-Burma Revolutionary Front (IBRF).

‘Hello, this is Arabinda Rajkhowa...’

A caller identifying himself as ‘Arabinda Rajkhowa’ called up a local TV channel here this evening to deny reports about his arrest. The caller Rajkhowa told the North East Television here, “Reports about my arrest which has been circulated since this morning are false. I am where I have been. It is the part of a design to derail the peace process which has been started afresh. The truth will come out in the open next Friday.”




India-Bangla ink pacts to tackle terrorism
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
India today expressed its gratitude to Bangladesh for taking speedy action to foil a conspiracy by the LeT to attack the Indian mission in Dhaka recently as the two countries finalised three key agreements to combat terrorism.

The agreements are likely to be signed during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi later this month.

“We thank Bangladesh for the prompt steps taken to prevent an attack on the Indian mission in Dhaka…it is a sign of the commitment of the Bangladesh Government to fight terrorism”, Home Secretary G K Pillai said at a joint press conference with his Bangladeshi counterpart Abdus Sobhan Sikder at the end of the three-day Home Secretary-level talks between the two countries. Bangladesh Police had last month arrested three suspects, including two LeT militants, in the eastern port city of Chittagong, whose interrogation revealed that they planned to attack the Indian and British High Commissions and the US Embassy.

Pillai also announced that Bangladesh Rifles had handed over to the Indian authorities two suspected LeT operatives, believed to be involved in the December 2005 terror attack on the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) in Bangalore. Identified as Nazir and Shafaq, the duo was detained along the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya. The government was trying to ascertain their antecedents and links.

The two sides arrived at an agreement on: Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, combating international terrorism, organised crime and illicit drug trafficking; and agreement on transfer of sentenced persons. However, the two sides have not yet been able to resolve differences over a bilateral extradition treaty, which was widely expected to be inked during Sheikh Hasina’s visit, likely from December 18. In response to a question, the top officials from the two countries said there was no discussion on the extradition treaty at the meeting.

The finalisation of the three accords mark a major confidence-building measure (CBM) to address the issue of Indian insurgents taking shelter in Bangladesh, which has marredties between the two nations in recent years. New Delhi, however, is quite happy over the manner in which the Sheikh Hasina Government has been cooperating with it in checking the activities of these insurgents.

While India placed on record its appreciation of the cooperation it has been receiving from Bangladesh in tackling the activities of North-Eastern insurgent groups, the Home Secretary of Bangladesh made it clear that Dhaka would not allow the misuse of its soil for terrorist operations against any nation. Sikder, however, ruled out joint operations by the security forces of the two countries against the Indian insurgent groups in Bangladesh.



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