ULFA leaders to be grilled in Bangladesh
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Last Updated: Monday, July 19, 2010, 00:06
Dhaka: Two leaders of the banned separatist group ULFA were remanded in a three-day police custody by a Bangladeshi court today following their arrest in a pre-dawn raid in northern Kishoreganj district.

"The two -- Ranjan Chowdhury (45) and his aide Pradip Marak (55) were remanded in custody for three days" on orders of a judicial magistrate court in Kishoreganj, police sub-inspector Delwar Hossain said today.

He said the remand order was issued in response to a police plea to quiz the ULFA leaders in custody as the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) last night filed four cases against them under the weapons, explosives, illegal immigration and anti-terrorism acts.

Chowdhury alias Ranju Chowdhury was arrested by Bangladeshi authorities from Bhairab town in a pre-dawn raid yesterday. A sophisticated pistol and bombs were recovered from the possession of the leaders of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

“We have arrested ULFA leaders Ranjan Chowdhury, so-called Major Ranjan, and Pradip Marak from Lakkhipur area of Bhairab,” RAB spokesman Lieutenant Commander Mohammad Sohail said.

However, several newspapers last month carried a report on the arrest of Chowdhury, who is also referred to as Ranju Chowdhury. The RAB at that time declined to confirm his arrest from the central Mymensingh district.

The action against the ULFA coincides with an ongoing probe in an abortive smuggling of 10-trucks of weapons believed to be destined to the hideouts of the banned separatist group in Assam.

Security sources said Chowdhury was arrested soon after the accidental seizure of the consignment in 2004 but was released in 24 hours.

Sohail said the arrests (of Chowdhury and Marak yesterday) were made based on a secret tip off that "several Indian trespassers" were staying at Bhairab, a commercial town, for long time.

He said both Chowdhury and Marak were waiting for a bus to travel to northern Sherpur district when they were arrested.

During initial interrogation, Ranjan told the RAB officials that he hailed from Madhusolmari of Gauripur in Assam's Dhubri district and that he joined the ULFA in 1988 and obtained three months of "military training", Sohail said.

"The ULFA leader went to Bhutan to meet ULFA's top military wing commander Paresh Barua in June 1995 and was arrested by Indian security forces on his return home the next month," he said.

He was detained in Guwahati jail of Assam for a year and was released in 1996.

The arrest came as Dhaka is believed to have helped in the arrest of ULFA chief Arbinda Rajkhowa from Bangladesh territory along with several accomplices and subsequently handed over to India.

Dhaka at that time declined the report of his arrest from Bangladesh and subsequent handing over to India.

Another ULFA stalwart Anup Chetia was arrested from the capital during the earlier 1996-2001 Awami League regime and is still in "security custody" despite the expiry of his jail term for cross border intrusion.

Security sources said the case of the "accidental" seizure of 10 truckloads of weapons in 2004 during ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) regime was shelved due to efforts by influential people.

Two years ago the interim government ordered the reinvestigation of the case amid allegations that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the then administration under the BNP-led government to suppress facts to weaken the case.

Two army generals, who earlier headed the apex National Security Intelligence (NSI) and several intelligence officials, are in jail for their suspected involvement in the abortive smuggling.


First Published: Monday, July 19, 2010, 00:06

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