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ULFA leaders held in B’desh; India awaits B’desh confirmation on arrest

A UNI photo showing members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) escort ULFA members Ranjan Chowdhury (L) and Pradip Marak to a media conference at RAB headquarter in Dhaka on Saturday.
Correspondent & IANS SHILLONG/Dhaka, JUL 18:
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Published on 19 Jul. 2010 12:30 AM IST
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Bangladesh is yet to inform India on the arrest of two United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants from its soil.
“We have seen the reports in the newspapers (arrest of two ULFA militants in Bangladesh), but till now the Bangladesh authorities haven’t confirmed the arrests to India officially,” GK Pillai Union Home Secretary told Nagaland Post over the phone from New Delhi. If the reports were true then India would certainly ask Bangladesh to hand over the two ULFA fugitives to India to stand trail, Pillai said, “We will surely ask for their handover to India through proper diplomatic channels.”
On Saturday, Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion paraded the detained ULFA rebel leader Ranjan Chowdhury alias Major Ranjan and his Bangladeshi aide Pradip Marak before the media in Dhaka.
Chowdhury is a former general secretary of the Dhubri district unit of ULFA. The RAB recovered a pistol, a revolver, four handmade bombs and bomb-making material from the hideout. Reportedly, Chowdhury illegally entered the country through Kurigram district in September 1997 to meet ULFA military wing chief Paresh Barua in Dhaka. However, the nationality of Marak is yet to be confirmed. Marak of Garo origin was an active ULFA member till his arrest.
But, the question before the security agencies is whether Marak is a Bangladeshi as a sizeable Garo population inhabits the neighbouring country, a senior intelligence official said here. But, Chowdhury’s identity is confirmed. He is an Indian and was arrested in 1995 by security agencies when he was on his way back to India from Bhutan after his reported meeting with ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia, who is now languishing in Bangladesh jail since 1997.
Last December, the Bangladesh authorities facilitated the arrest of ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa, Raju Barua and eight others of the group.
Moreover, Dhaka also handed over Ranjan Daimary, chief of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), to India where he is wanted for ordering bomb attacks.
Daimary is the fifth top separatist leader to be evicted out of Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh have stepped up cooperation in handling crime, militancy and terrorism since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took office in January last year.
ULFA leader nabbed six weeks ago

Top United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) leader Ranjan Chowdhury, whose arrest was announced by the Bangladesh authorities Saturday, had assumed a Muslim name, Masud Chowdhury, to evade detection and had been picked up by police six weeks ago, said a media report here Sunday.
Chowdhury had also married a local girl, a common trait among Indian militants who cross the border into Bangladesh to evade arrest.
Chowdhury was arrested and paraded before the media here Saturday. According to The New Nation, he “is probably the same Masud Ranjan Chowdhury” picked up by the police six weeks ago. He was arrested by plainclothes policemen June 6 from Rumpa Clinic in Mymensingh town where he was admitted after being injured.
At that time, police and the para-military Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) had denied the arrest, the paper said. But his wife Sabitri Sangma confirmed the arrest to media persons.
Unnamed sources told the newspaper that Chowdhury assumed the name, Masud Chowdhury, when he used to come out of the tribal areas of the border.
Chowdhury, alias Major Ranjan, 46, was caught along with his Bangladeshi aide Pradip Marak, 57, from his hideout at Lakshmipur village in Bhairab in northeastern Bangladesh.
Chowdhury’s arrest was the first “official announcement” made by Bangladesh authorities of the nabbing of an Indian militant leader, New Age newspaper said.
ULFA’s military wing chief Paresh Barua, believed to be in Bangladesh, has also married a Bangladeshi girl and goes by the name Zaman.
Bangladesh authorities say Chowdhury has been heading violent operations from Bangladeshi soil since last December’s detention of the top brass of the ULFA.
Chowdhury is a former general secretary of the Dhubri district unit of ULFA. The RAB recovered a pistol, a revolver, four handmade bombs and bomb-making material from the hideout.
Last December, the Bangladesh authorities facilitated the arrest of ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa, Raju Barua and eight others of the group.
India and Bangladesh have stepped up cooperation in handling crime, militancy and terrorism since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took office in January last year.
The Daily Star newspaper Sunday quoted chief of RAB Intelligence Wing Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan as saying: “ULFA activities in India are apparently regulated by its leaders and operatives who have taken shelter in Bangladesh. Among them, Ranjan Chowdhury is now the chief as the other top leaders of the separatist group are in jail.”
Ziaul Ahsan said RAB is trying to locate the organisation’s arsenal in the country.
RAB chief Major General Hasan Mahmud Khandaker said: “We are trying to find out whether ULFA has any links with local militant outfits or has any military wing here. We are also trying to ascertain how many ULFA leaders and operatives are living here.”
Commander Mohammad Sohail, director of RAB legal and media wing, said Chowdhury married a Bangladeshi and started living at Gazni village of Jhinaigati upazila in Sherpur since 1997. He has been making frequent trips to India.
Chowdhury illegally entered the country through Kurigram district in September 1997 to meet ULFA military wing chief Paresh Barua in Dhaka, said commander Sohail.
In 1995, Indian law enforcers arrested Chowdhury on his way back to India from Bhutan after his meeting with ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia, who has been convicted in several cases and is now in jail in Bangladesh since 1997.


 
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