India, Bangladesh to expedite extradition pact



New Delhi: Giving a boost to burgeoning security cooperation, India and Bangladesh on Monday decided to expedite the signing of an extradition treaty that would facilitate the handing over ULFA leader Anup Chetia and operationalise a slew of pacts already agreed upon.

New Delhi, in turn, assured Dhaka that it will leave "no stone unturned" to track down and hand over the killers of the architect of Bangladesh's independence Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The two sides agreed to finalise the extradition treaty, which has been in discussion for some time now, at an early date.

"The draft (extradition treaty) has been shared and we are going through it. We are scrutinising it," India's Home Secretary RK Singh said at a joint press conference with his Bangladesh counterpart Monzur Hossain after a two-day meeting of the Joint Working Group on Security.

Replying to a question on the issue, Hossain said the pact will be signed "at the earliest. That is our position with utmost sincerity".

Chetia, the ULFA general secretary, has served his sentence in a Bangladeshi jail since his arrest there in 1997 on the charge of entering the country without valid documents.

A joint statement issued after the JWG meeting said the two countries agreed to put into operation Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), transfer of sentenced persons, Agreement on Combating Organised Crime and Illegal Drug Trafficking.

The three key agreements were signed during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in January last year, setting the stage for the security cooperation.

Asked about the possibility of deportation of Anup Chetia, languishing in a jail in Dhaka since 1997, Hossain said due to some legal issues, he has not been deported but hoped that those issues would be resolved soon and that he would be handed over to India "at the earliest".

"Legal matters are not in our hands...We can't comment on them. They are subjudice. Once that is done, we will take appropriate action at the earliest," he said.

Singh said discussions on Chetia were on and New Delhi was happy with the status and the steps being taken by Bangladesh.

The joint statement said the Home Secretaries reaffirmed "their commitment not to allow the territory of either country to use for any activity inimical to each other's interests".

Both sides also agreed to implement the coordinated Border Management Plan signed during the visit of Home Minister P Chidambaram to Bangladesh in July this year and Hossain assured Bangladesh would not tolerate anti-India activities on its soil and assured that the ULFA leader will be handed over to India at the "earliest".

"Anti-India forces are not active in Bangladesh. We don't allow them. We don't allow them to do anything like that. But some time some things do happen, that is a different issue. But they will not be tolerated. We have zero tolerance for them," he said.

In the meeting, Bangladesh sought assistance from the Indian side in tracking, apprehending and handing over the killers, including Riasaldar Mosleuddin, of the architect of Bangladesh's independence Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Indian side agreed to extend all possible cooperation while seeking additional information in this regard.

"We expect that India will do the needful. We are very much hopeful that when more information will be available to their law enforcement agencies, they will be able to round them up and hand them over to Bangladesh. We appreciate India's efforts," Hossain said.

Singh said he has told the Bangladeshi side that India will leave "no stone unturned" to apprehend the killers and hand them over to Bangladesh.

Mosleuddin had opened fire at the then Bangladesh President Sheikh Mujib when he was coming down the stairs from first floor to ground floor at his Dhaka residence on the intervening night of August 14-15, 1975, during a military coup.

PTI