On a day Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina flew to New Delhi for summit level talks, a minister Sunday repeated the charge that there was “clear evidence” Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf met Indian militant Anup Chetia during an official visit here in 2002.
Local Government Minister and Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam Sunday said there was “clear evidence” regarding a meeting between Musharraf and Anup Chetia of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).
The meeting, which lasted 90 minutes and took place in Musharraf’s hotel room, was “facilitated” by then Khaleda Zia government.
The reiteration came apparently in response to a denial by Zia’s aide and Bangladesh National Secretary General Khandaker Delawar Hossain who called the minister’s charge “irresponsible”.
“I am aware that no comment should be made about a president without any evidence,” Ashraful Islam told newspersons.
“Pervez Musharraf had a one-and-half-hour meeting with detained ULFA leader Anup Chetia when BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party)-led alliance was in power,” he told a round table meet on Bangladesh-India relations.
“You can guess what had been discussed in such long meeting,” bdnews24 website quoted him as saying.
Chetia, secretary general of ULFA that is banned in India and many other countries, is currently detained in a Bangladesh jail since his arrest in 1998.
He was convicted for travelling with fake documents and jailed for four years. However, he has not been handed over to India for lack of an extradition treaty.
Chetia is not covered by a treaty that Bangladesh and India are slated to sign in New Delhi in the coming week.
India has for long alleged that separatist groups in its northeastern region operate from Bangladesh soil and the operations are coordinated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services intelligence (ISI).
In the recent weeks, seven top ULFA leaders, including its chief Arabinda Rajkhowa, have been nabbed by Indian authorities.
The ULFA has been pursuing an armed struggle since 1979 with the professed objective of liberating the northeastern Indian state of Assam from what they term as New Delhi’s ‘colonial rule’.
The minister also said that 10-truckloads of weapons off-loaded in Chittagong port in 2004 and 30 million bullets in Bogra in Bangladesh were actually meant for use by the ULFA.
–Indo-Asian News Service