Page last updated at 07:29 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Assam rebel leader 'held in Dhaka'

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta


Bangladeshi security forces have placed a leader of a separatist group from India's north-east under house arrest, officials of both countries said.

The chairman of the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), Arabinda Rajkhowa, and his family have been living in the capital, Dhaka.

There are unconfirmed reports that Bangladeshi forces have held two more Indian rebel leaders.

The Ulfa rebels have fought for a separate Assamese homeland since 1979.

Last month, the Ulfa said that Bangladeshi police had arrested two of their top leaders, Chitrabon Hazarika and Sasha Choudhary.

There are unconfirmed reports that the two other rebels leaders - chairman of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Ranjan Daimary and chairman of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) Biswamohan Debbarma - have also been held elsewhere in Bangladesh.

But none of these leaders have been formally arrested, giving rise to speculation that they may be "pushed back" into India.

Foreign nationals accused of illegal entry into Bangladesh can be pushed back to the country of their origin under law without having to go through cumbersome legal proceedings.

'Abjure violence'

India's home ministry has not confirmed the reports of the arrests in Bangladesh.

But the federal home minister P Chidambaram made a significant statement in the Indian parliament on Wednesday.

"The Ulfa is in disarray today... In the next few days, I expect the Ulfa leadership to make a political statement... A positive statement," Mr Chidambaram said.

He said negotiations with Ulfa could begin only if the group "agreed to abjure violence" and gave up its demand for "Assam's sovereignty".

Though Mr Rajkhowa had, in recent weeks, repeatedly expressed his desire to start negotiations and blamed Delhi for the delay, it was not yet clear whether the Ulfa's powerful military chief Paresh Barua would back such a move.

Mr Rajkhowa had taken the initiative to start negotiations with Delhi in 1992 but the effort failed because of Mr Barua's determination to carry on the armed separatist movement against India.

Another move to start negotiations between the Indian government and the Ulfa in 2006 by using a citizens' mediation committee failed when the group refused to declare a ceasefire and abjure violence during the negotiations.

Ever since the Awami League party came to power in Bangladesh in January, the Ulfa and other north-eastern rebel groups have been under pressure to leave the country or face action.

Some rebels have been arrested and sent back to India on charges of illegal entry into Bangladesh, while others have been held for questioning to secure information on rebel hideouts.

Print Sponsor

Indian elections: the Bangladesh factor
30 Mar 09 |  South Asia
Assam grenade attack injures 24
20 Mar 09 |  South Asia
Stripped Assam woman in poll bid
10 Mar 09 |  South Asia
Q&A: What hopes for peace in Assam?
03 Nov 08 |  South Asia
Tragic aftermath of Assam's bombs
31 Oct 08 |  South Asia
Three killed in Assam train blast
02 Dec 08 |  South Asia
Outrage over Assam woman assault
27 Nov 07 |  South Asia
Top Assam separatist 'arrested'
18 May 06 |  South Asia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific