India tells B'Desh Mujib killers hiding in Bengal

Dhaka believes two fugitives are in India; urges New Delhi to look for them

 India is looking for two fugitives convicted of killing Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in  West Bengal.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said here on Friday that the West Bengal Government was looking for two former officials of the Bangladesh Army who had been convicted of killing Rahman in 1975, but had been on the run.

Dhaka believes that the two fugitives—Abdul Majed and Mosleuddin—are hiding in India and has been urging New Delhi to look for them.

With negotiation on a bilateral extradition treaty between New Delhi and Dhaka at its “final stage,” Chidambaram said the West Bengal Government was trying to trace the two fugitive killers of “Bangabandhu,” as Sheikh Mujibur is revered in Bangladesh.

“Efforts are being made by the Government of West Bengal to trace them (Majed and Mosleuddin),” Chidambaram told journalists after a meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sahara Khatun.

Khatun is in New Delhi for the annual home minister-level parleys between Bangladesh and India.

During his visit to Dhaka for the first home minister-level talks between the two countries, Chidambaram had assured Khatun that if the two fugitives “are in India, no effort and resources will be spared to apprehend and hand them over to Bangladesh.”

Chidambaram’s comment on Friday, however, for the first time indicated that a search was on for the two Bangladeshi fugitives in West Bengal.

West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram share borders with Bangladesh. However, according to the sources, intelligence inputs shared by Bangladesh with India indicated that the duo might be hiding somewhere in West Bengal, possibly taking advantage of the linguistic and cultural similarities on both sides of the border.

At a time when Mamata Banerjee’s stand on sharing of waters of the river Teesta cast a shadow on India’s relations with Bangladesh, Chidambaram’s comment virtually put the onus of finding the fugitive killers of “Bangabandhu” on her government in West Bengal.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Sheikh Mujibur, had called up Banerjee to congratulate her on the landmark victory of the All India Trinamool Congress in the assembly elections in West Bengal in May 2011. But the relations between the two have reportedly soured after Banerjee’s objections forced New Delhi to put on backburner an interim deal on sharing of Teesta waters. The deal was to be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in September 2011.

“If we trace those people (Mosleuddin and Majed), and if we identify them, I think there are legal ways to send them to Bangladesh.

“Sending them to Bangladesh is not a problem. Problem is tracing them and identifying
them,” Chidambaram said when a journalist asked him if it would be possible for New Delhi to hand over the two to Dhaka since the two countries are yet to sign an extradition treaty.

He also said that a draft of the extradition treaty proposed by New Delhi was in final stages of consideration by Dhaka.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the iconic leader of the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh and the nation’s first President, was assassinated along with many members of his family on August 15, 1975, by some disgruntled officers of the country’s armed forces. Several decades later, Bangladesh’s courts found 12 former army officials guilty of killing Bangabandhu and they were handed down death sentences.

Five of the convicted killers were executed in Dhaka on January 28, 2010, while the rest, including Mosleuddin and Majed, are absconding.

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