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Bangladesh extradites top ULFA militant

The founder of the separatist United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has been handed over to India following years of pressure from New Delhi. The militant leader had been imprisoned for 18 years in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh transferred custody of the founder of the militant UFLA group to Indian authorities Wednesday, ending years of diplomatic wrangling by New Delhi trying to extradite the jailed leader.

"He is in our custody and will be brought to India shortly," a senior Indian intelligence official, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, told the Reuters news agency.

Anup Chetia had been jailed in Bangladesh for the past 18 years for unlawfully staying in the country and unauthorized possession of foreign currencies. He had completed a seven-year sentence but was not released and had applied for political asylum in Bangladesh.

The 48-year-old Indian citizen, born Golap Barua in the state of Assam, helped found ULFA, one of the largest of the many rebel groups active in India's restive northeast, a

remote and underdeveloped region that's home to dozens of ethnic groups.

ULFA had once run military bases from inside Bangladesh and had demanded a separate state to be carved out of Indian territory. It accuses the central government of plundering the region's mineral and agricultural resources.

Although violence has subsided in recent years, fighting in the northeast states has killed thousands over the decades: hundreds are still killed each year as

Indian security forces battle insurgents.

Warming relations between Delhi and Dhaka

Indien und Bangladesch regeln jahrzehntealten Grenzstreit

India and Bangladesh settled a long-running border dispute in June 2015

Negotiations between India's National Security Adviser and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had led to an agreement in which Chetia would be transferred to India.

"The decision was personally taken by Sheikh Hasina in line with her policy of not allowing anti-India forces to operate from Bangladeshi soil," an unnamed Indian security source told the Press Trust of India.

The two countries

signed a historic land boundary agreement

earlier this year, ending more than four decades of complex territorial disputes.

India had been repeatedly demanding Chetia's deportation for more than two decades, but successive governments in Bangladesh had been refusing to cooperate citing the lack of a common extradition treaty.

jar/jil (PTI, Reuters)

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