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India, Bangladesh to ink extradition treaty, visa pact

Posted on Jan 28, 11:31AM | IANS

Many top militant leaders of the northeast hiding in Bangladesh could be handed over to India with New Delhi and Dhaka set to sign an extradition treaty as well as a liberalised visa agreement during Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's three-day visit to Dhaka from Monday.

The union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had last week given the go-ahead to inking the long-awaited extradition treaty, which is to pave the way for extradition of northeast militant leaders now in Bangladesh.

Anup Chetia, alias Golap Barua, a founding member of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), was arrested in Dhaka in 1997 and jailed for violations of the Passport Act, Foreigner's Act and foreign currency regulations. He was sentenced to seven years in jail and continues to remain behind bars.

India may ask Bangladesh for Chetia's deportation after inking the extradition pact, sources said.

Bangladesh and India cannot extradite criminals due to lack of a treaty. However, the two sides have been handing over criminals informally.

Shinde will meet Bangladesh Home Minister M.K. Alamgir in Dhaka. The two ministers had met in New Delhi last month.

India and Bangladesh had earlier signed the Agreements on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Combating International Terrorism, Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to New Delhi in January 2010.

Other northeast militant leaders likely to be deported include Tripura militant leader Vishwa Mohan Deb Barman and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) leader Thulunga, alias Tensu Narzary.

The two sides are also to ink a new visa regime, named revised travel arrangement, which proposes to remove restrictions on visits of businesspersons, students, patients, senior citizens above 65 years and children below 12 years.

Under the liberalised visa regime proposals, businessmen would be given five-year multiple entry visa, those travelling for medical purposes would be given two-year multiple entry visa along with visa to three attendants of a patient, said a ministry source.

India is also likely to waive the 60-day cooling off period for a second visit by Bangladeshi nationals to India.

"Good things are happening between India and Bangladesh. Let the agreements be inked," a Bangladeshi diplomatic official told IANS.

Both India and Bangladesh have been keen to sign the extradition treaty since the Sheikh Hasina government came to power in 2009.

Bangladesh is also seeking India's help in nabbing and handing over two of the fugitive killers of Bangladesh's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Dhaka believes the two -- Captain (retd) Abdul Mazed and Risalder Moslehuddin (retd) -- are hiding in India and is seeking to get them back.

A top Tripura militant leader, Ranjit Debbarma, was last week "pushed back" into India by Bangladesh authorities.

Debbarma, the self-styled president of the separatist All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), is the most dreaded militant leader after ULFA's (United Liberation Front of Assam) founding member and chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa. Bangladesh authorities pushed back Rajkhowa and his associates into India in December 2009.

Prominent among those nabbed in Bangladesh and handed over to India are Rajkhowa, ULFA 'foreign secretary' Sashadhar Choudhury, 'finance secretary' Chitrabon Hazarika, deputy military wing chief Raju Baruah, chairman of Manipur's United National Liberation Front (UNLF) Rajkumar Meghen and chairman of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Ranjan Daimary.