Indian fugitive awaits Dhaka court verdict on asylum plea


Dhaka : Indian fugitive Anup Chetia, who completed his jail term in Bangladesh in 2004, is awaiting the Dhaka High Court’s verdict on his plea for political asylum, a media report said Saturday.

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Chetia, who belongs to the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), a militant group accused of widespread violence in northeast India’s Assam state, was nabbed for entering Bangladesh on forged papers, convicted and jailed about 10 years ago.

India has repeatedly alleged that Chetia is one of the many ULFA leaders, including top leader Paresh Baruah, living in and operating from Bangladeshi territory. Dhaka has consistently denied this.

Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina, who won the parliamentary elections earlier this week, has told media during interviews that she would not allow her country’s territory to be used for anti-India activities.

When Chetia completed his jail term in 2004, the then government of Begum Khaleda Zia did not give India his custody on the ground that a human rights group had raised objections and had moved court.

The group was headed by the wife of a top functionary of the Zia government.

Chetia is one of the 330 Indian nationals languishing in Bangladeshi jails, long after their terms are over “because of bureaucratic and diplomatic tangles”, the Daily Star newspaper said.

“His jail term ended in December 2004. After expiry of jail term, he sought political asylum in Bangladesh, which the government turned down,” Inspector General (Prisons) Brig. General Zakir Hassan was quoted as saying.

“Later, his lawyer filed a writ petition, which is now pending with the High Court. We cannot do anything about him, until the court delivers its verdict,” he said.

There are 878 foreign nationals from 11 countries in Bangladeshi jails of whom 286 should have been freed long ago on expiry of their jail terms.

At least six foreign prisoners – four Myanmarese, one North Korean and one Tanzanian – were freed in the last one month. Twenty more would be released this month.

Of the 878, 515 are Myanmarese, 330 are Indian, 12 are Pakistani, seven are Nepali, five are Tanzanian, two are Kenyan, three are Malaysian and there are one each from Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Liberia and Hungary.

The jail terms of 30 foreign nationals expired 15 years ago while 80 completed their terms five years back.