Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bangladesh update (August 18, 2011)

1) On Anup Chetia: Linky

Sources said the Ulfa general secretary was expected to withdraw his petition, filed in the high court in 2003, seeking asylum in Bangladesh. Once he withdraws his petition, he will be handed over to the Indian authorities. It had been reported earlier that Chetia could not be handed over to India until his asylum case had been disposed of. The Bangladesh government has to approach the high court to seek permission to release him.
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The sources said Dhaka was considering handing Chetia over to India as soon as the legal formalities were over but it was also expecting an assurance that India would extradite the two remaining killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who are allegedly hiding in India.

No idea who these two are, since the last known collation of data showed that they were all elsewhere, see Linky
Another unknown nugget:

Chetia, a Muttock from Upper Assam, belongs to the same ethnic group as Paresh Barua. They are first cousins and Chetia is believed to have been Barua’s mentor in the early days.

2) Rail Bhavan ki Diplomazy: Linky

Bangladesh wants the Dhaka-Calcutta train service to be extended to other Indian cities, including Delhi and Ajmer. “We want India and Bangladesh to agree to at least two more cities which will be connected by rail. Right now, it’s just a Calcutta-Dhaka service, we want it to be a service which connects Bangladesh with India, not just the two Bengals,” Bangladesh high commissioner Tariq Karim said.
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With the Dhaka-Calcutta service already in place, India is now working to link Bangladesh with neighbouring Tripura.

If you missed more of that news, here it is:

India will construct an 18-km-long railway line at a cost of Rs 267 crore to connect Agartala with Akhaura via Gangasagar in Bangladesh, a top railway official said today. B N Rajsekhar, additional member of the Indian Railway Board, said here that the project, second after the Kolkata-Dhaka line, would be completed in two and a half years. A six-member delegation, led by Rajsekhar, yesterday saw the alignment of the railway line and gave a final nod to it. Rajsekhar said the project was held up for a long time and got a fresh lease of life only after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi last year. "Two months ago the Planning Commission had asked the Railway Board to finalise the alignment of the railway," he said

In any case, we have more:

The train plan is part of a larger sub-regional pact Dhaka wants to sign for better road and rail connectivity, power grid and water-sharing with India, Nepal and Bhutan. It has been flagged as “the key issue” in Prime Minister Singh’s planned talks with Sheikh Hasina early next month, besides exchange of border enclaves and trade concessions. Mamata is scheduled to accompany Singh on the trip.
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India has also drawn up plans to take its railway network to Bhutan and Nepal. This follows China linking Tibet’s Lhasa with Beijing by train. It has also started work on a rail link to Khasa, on the Nepal-Tibet border. India, too, acknowledges the strategic and trade significance of networking its neighbours with its 64,000 km rail network. “Just like Europe, the time has come to integrate South Asia as one railway hub.

Also: Linky

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma will accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Bangladesh next month, officials said in Shillong on Thursday. The decision came after Mr. Sangma received the personal invitation letter from the Prime Minister on Wednesday, they said.

3) More on integration: Linky

Bangladesh yesterday pitched for a sub-regional cooperation in hydro power sector involving India, Bhutan and Nepal, and equitable share of Teesta River water.
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Asked if Bangladesh hopes to get half the share of Teesta waters, Rizvi declined to mention the quantum but said, “We are for equitable sharing and the benefit of the people living in catchment areas of the river.” Since the larger portion of the catchment area of Teesta is in Bangladesh, Dhaka has argued its case on the water-sharing citing the needs of the people in the area. Indian Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is expected to come to Dhaka ahead of Manmohan Singh's visit next month, but the dates for Bansal's trip are yet to be finalised, said Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tariq Ahmed Karim.
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He said Bangladesh has suggested India more boarding and boarding-off points for the Maitree Express train running between Dhaka and Kolkata, so that it truly becomes an “India-Bangladesh friendship” train instead of just a link.

4) Will West Bengal go the Tamil Nadu way, a little belatedly?

The Left Front today discussed the government’s proposal to rename West Bengal and decided to request the administration at tomorrow’s all-party meeting to choose between Bangla and Paschimbanga. “Three names have been suggested by the government — Bangla, Paschimbanga and Bangabhumi. As far as the Left Front is concerned, we prefer either Paschimbanga or Bangla,’’ Forward Bloc leader Naren Chatterjee said. The all-party meeting will also consider the bifurcation of West Midnapore, Jalpaiguri, South and North 24-Parganas, Burdwan and Murshidabad, sources said.

5) HUJI-B's acting boss held: Linky

Banned militant outfit Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji) "acting chief" Hafez Moulana Yahiya, an accused in the August 21 grenade attack case, was arrested along with two accomplices in Kishoreganj yesterday. The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) claims Yahiya, 46, was serving as the acting chief of Huji since its earlier chief Moulana Sheikh Farid was arrested on July 26. According to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), he is also charge-sheeted accused in the Ramna Batamul blast case and Kotalipara bomb planting case.
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Sources say Yahiya was one of the masterminds of the August 21 grenade attack that killed 24 Awami League leaders and activists and injured over 300 including Sheikh Hasina. Describing the operation, Commander Sohail said the elite force had a tip-off that the trio were heading towards Kishoreganj on a bus that left Sylhet late Wednesday night. Accordingly, they intercepted several buses at Durjoy intersection in Bhairab and arrested them around 2:15am. Some training manuals of the banned outfit and books on jihad were also recovered. Earlier in December in 2005, police arrested Yahiya in Chittagong as a suspected leader of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). He later disappeared after he came out of jail on bail.

Yahiya, who hailed from Chhalimpur village in Sitakunda upazila in Chittagong, had fought in Afghanistan and also in Myanmar for the Arakan Muslims. He studied at Kazi Bazar Kowmi Madrasa in Sylhet for seven years and for one year at Hathajari Madrasa. In 1986, he joined Lalkhan Bazar Madrasa as a teacher and took part in the Afghan war in 1988. After the Afghan war, he returned to Bangladesh in 1992.
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Sohail said they have so far arrested 76 top-ranked leaders and activists of Huji including former Huji chiefs Mufti Abdul Hannan and Sheikh Farid and top Huji leader Moulana Sabbir. Replying to a query, Sohail added 20,000 to 25,000 leaders and activists of the Huji are active.

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