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Bangladesh: Treatment of ethnic Assamese under the present government (1996 - September 1999)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 15 September 1999
Citation / Document Symbol BGD32717.E
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bangladesh: Treatment of ethnic Assamese under the present government (1996 - September 1999), 15 September 1999, BGD32717.E, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Information on the treatment of Assamese persons in Bangladesh is limited. The only information found relates to members of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), an armed group seeking independence from India for Assamese people and, in particular, the case of Anup Chetia, ULFA's secretary general

On 21 December 1997 Anup Chetia and two other members of the ULFA were arrested in Bangladesh on charges of "possessing foreign currency illegally, entering into Bangladesh without formal documents, concealing their names and possessing satellite telephone set" (The Independent 6 May 1999; Dhaka Holiday 20 Jan. 1998). The Indian government asked for Chetia to be turned over to them but, according to the Bangladesh Supreme Court which "rejected an appeal against the possible extradition" of Chetia, there was no evidence that the Bangladesh government planned to give him to authorities in India where he is wanted on charges of "treason, murder and kidnapping" (AP 4 Mar. 1998). Bangladesh and India had agreed in January 1997 to cooperate in "checking cross-border insurgency" (Bangladesh Radio Network 7 Jan. 1997; The Bangladesh Observer 21 Jan. 1997; Dhaka Holiday 20 Jan. 1998).

India continued to press for Chetia's extradition (Doordarshan Television Network 25 Apr. 1998; Rajasthan Patrika 18 June 1998). In October 1998 Chetia was sentenced by a Bangladesh court to "six years' hard labour for illegal entry and stay in Bangladesh," while the trials continued for the two other persons who were arrested with him (AFP 26 Oct. 1998; DPA 26 Oct. 1998; Dawn 29 Oct. 1998). He was reported to have formally asked Bangladesh for political asylum (ibid.; DPA 26 Oct. 1998; AFP 26 Oct. 1998). He was reported to have said that he came to Bangladesh to save his life from Indian authorities (Dawn 27 Oct. 1998). Further court appearances took place on the other charges in May 1999 (The Independent 6 May 1999), on 31 August 1999 (ibid. 31 Aug. 1999) and on 7 September 1999 at which a defence request for additional time was granted (ibid. 8 Sept. 1999).

Although Chetia was not deported to India, All India Radio General Overseas Service in reporting on Bangladesh/India discussions on terrorism, stated that "Bangladesh authorities have handed over some cadres of the banned United Liberation Front of Assam to the law keeping forces of India (27 Apr. 1998).

A booklet entitled "Bleeding Assam" released by India's Union Home Ministry, claimed that ULFA had "started several lucrative income-generating projects in Bangladesh to sustain its anti-India activities," including three hotels, a clinic, two driving schools, as well as grocery and drug stores (Deccan Herald 25 Oct. 1998; Dhaka Courier 30 Oct. 1998). Dawn quoted the Bangladesh home secretary as saying "this is baseless propaganda" in reaction to the claims (27 Oct. 1998).

For further information on ULFA please consult IND27843.E of 30 September 1997.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Agence France Presse (AFP). 26 October 1998. "Bangladesh Courts Convicts Indian Separatist leader." (NEXIS)

All India Radio General Overseas Service [Delhi, in English]. 27 April 1998. "India: India- Bangladesh Efforts Against Terrorism Viewed." (FBIS-TOT-98-117 27 Apr. 1998)

Associated Press (AP). 4 March 1998. "Supreme Court Rejects Plea Against Extradition of Indian Rebel." (NEXIS)

The Bangladesh Observer [Dhaka, in English]. 21 January 1997. "Bangladesh: Joint Operation With India Against ULFA Militants Opposed." (FBIS-NES-97-018 21 Jan. 1997)

Bangladesh Radio Network [Dhaka, in English]. 7 January 1997. "Bangladesh, India: Commentary Hail's Gowda's Visit." (FBIS-NES-97-005 7 Jan. 1997)

Dawn. 29 October 1998. "BD on Alert After Assam Leader's Conviction." [Accessed 29 Oct. 1998]

_____. 27 October 1998. "BD Convicts Assam Leader." [Accessed 27 Oct. 1998]

Deccan Herald [Bangalore, in English]. 25 October 1998. "India: Indian Separatist Group ULFA Raising Funds in Bangladesh." (FBIS-TOT-98-298 25 Oct. 1998)

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 26 October 1998. "Indian Separatist Seeks Asylum as Bangladeshi Border Talks Begin." (NEXIS)

Dhaka Courier [in English]. 30 October 1998. Rashed Chowdhury. "Anup Chetia Jailed."

Dhaka Holiday [in English]. 20 January 1998. "Bangladesh: Assam Militant Handover to India Disputed." (FBIS-NES-98-023 23 Jan. 1998)

Doordarshan Television Network [Delhi, in English]. 25 April 1998. "India: Bangladesh Asked to Deport Assam Militant." (FBIS-NES-98-115 25 Apr. 1998)

The Independent [Dhaka, in English]. 8 September 1999. "Anup Chetia Case: Deposition of PWs Not recorded." [Accessed 13 Sept. 1999]

_____. 31 August 1999. "Chetia Produced Before Court." [Accessed 13 Sept. 1999]

_____. 6 May 1999. "Anup Chetia Produced Before Court." [Accessed 13 Sept. 1999]

_____. 11 March 1999. "ULFA Rebels Set Up Bases in Myanmar." [Accessed 13 Sept. 1999]

Rajasthan Patrika [Jaipur, in Hindi]. 18 June 1998. "India: Editorial Assesses Visit of Bangladesh Leader." (FBIS-NES-98-170 19 June 1998)

Additional Sources Consulted

Cultural Survival Quarterly [Cambridge, Mass.]. 1996 - 1999.

DIRB Indexed Media Review [Ottawa]. July 1998 - September 1999.

European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations. Website.

International Organization for Migration (IOM). Website.

Minorities at Risk Project. Website.

Resource Centre. Bangladesh country file. September 1998 - September 1999.

_____. Bangladesh: Amnesty International country file. January 1996 - September 1999.

Survival (International). Website.

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO). Website.

Electronic sources: IRB Databases, LEXIS/NEXIS, Internet, REFWORLD, World News Connection (WNC).

One non-documentary source contacted could not provide information on the requested subject.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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