ULFA leaders to be grilled in Bangladesh

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.

PTI



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

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