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Musharraf Secretly Met ULFA Leader Chetia In Dhaka

PTI 09 Jan 2010, 13:24:24 IST
PTI

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had a secret meeting with jailed ULFA leader Anup Chetia during a visit to Bangladesh when ex-premier Khaleda Zia of BNP was in power, a senior Bangladesh minister has alleged. 

"Pervez Musharraf came to Dhaka ... when the ULFA leader was detained in the (Dhaka Central) jail, from where he was brought to the Sheraton Hotel" for a meeting with the President, local government minister Ashraful Islam said. 

"He (Chetia) held a meeting with Pervez Musharraf for some one and a half hours," Islam, also the general secretary of ruling Awami League, said at a discussion on Indo-Bangla relations yesterday. 

Chetia was arrested from Dhaka during the past 1996-2001 Awami League regime and still is in "security custody" despite the expiry of his jail term for cross-border intrusion. 

Islam's comments came as investigators here reportedly revealed alleged links between the insurgent group and Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). A probe is underway into the country's biggest-ever arms haul in 2004 when Bangladesh Police seized 10 truckloads of weapons believed to be destined for ULFA hideouts in northeast India. 

"The 10 truckloads of weapon were not brought to be used in Bangladesh, these were destined to India, one lakh bullets were seized (earlier) from (northwestern) Bogra and those too were being smuggled to India," the minister said. 

Two former top bosses of the country's main spy agency National Security Intelligence (NSI) were now in jail to face trial for their alleged links to the arms haul while several civil, police and military officials were quizzed by investigators in connection with the scam. 

The past military-backed interim government last year ordered the reinvestigation amid allegations that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the then administration under BNP to suppress facts to weaken the case. 

The consignment believed to be destined for ULFA hideouts was seized despite suspected efforts from influential quarters for its safe passage through the southeastern port city of Bangladesh. The case was shelved for years after the apparently "accidental" seizure. 

An earlier report quoting CID officials said detained ex-NSI chief retired brigadier general Abdur Rahim and another official of the intelligence agency told interrogators and the court that a Dubai-based business group and the ISI were involved in the abortive weapon smuggling. 

Media reports had also quoted unidentified security officials talking about ULFA's alleged Pakistan links. 

New Delhi has long been alleging that the separatist outfit was using Bangladesh territory to carry out subversive activities in India but this was for the first time that a senior government leader disclosed such an incident. 

However, he did not specify the date of the said meeting. 

Islam's comments came just a day ahead of the start of a three-day India tour by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the first since her Awami League was installed after the December 29, 2008 general elections. PTI