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Sunday, October 1, 2023

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Sunday, October 1, 2023

London-based ULFA-I chairman moves court against extradition to India

Earlier, Abhijeet Asom had been interrogated several times by UK government agencies in London over the past couple of years following an extradition request by the Indian government.


The former chairman of the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) has moved a court in the United Kingdom (UK) challenging his extradition to India.

A doctor from Assam, Mukul Hazarika alias Abhijeet Asom, who migrated to the UK after completing his MBBS from Gauhati Medical College in 1972, is wanted by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) for his alleged involvement in organising terror camps and recruiting cadres to carry out terror attacks in the state.

Appearing on behalf of the Indian government, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) barrister Ben Lloyd informed the court, “In essence, he is charged with waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting the waging of war, against the government of India, which is a terrorist act.”

He had been interrogated several times by UK government agencies in London over the past couple of years following an extradition request by the Indian government, and on May 16 he appeared before the District Judge Michael Snow at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.

Hazarika (75), who hails from Kaliabor in central Assam’s Nagaon district and is a general practitioner (GP) at County Durham, is accused of having made a speech at a camp in Myanmar in 2016 while he was ULFA (I) chairman that encouraged “assembled cadres” to take up arms to create a separate sovereign Assam.

Both the countries have an extradition treaty inked in 1992, which means that he could be sent to India without being arrested, and a source has claimed that the extradition of the chairperson was almost “certain” after the completion of the legal formalities in the UK.

A chargesheet had been filed by the NIA in its court in Guwahati in 2017 against Hazarika, chief of the armed wing Paresh Baruah, and another functionary Gagan Hazarika. It was submitted after a case was registered on the basis of an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Both Gagan Hazarika and Baruah were declared “absconders” by the court.

Dr Hazarika was charged under Sections 18, 18A, 18B and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Sections 121A and 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Meanwhile, Baruah knew that the chairperson would land in trouble and so he issued a press release in September, 2021, declaring that “Dr Hazarika is a fictitious character” who does not exist. He had told a journalist over the phone that the photograph of Abhijeet Asom that had been circulated and published was of Mukul Hazarika, who is a doctor by profession and a human rights activist.

Hazarika’s association with ULFA was not known to many until 2011 when he shot into prominence as Abhijeet Asom, the acting chairperson of the independent or anti-talks faction led by Baruah. Two years later, he was appointed chairperson of the group after Arabinda Rajkhowa was expelled for engaging in talks with the government.

In 2016, Hazarika visited ULFA-I’s council mobile headquarters in Myanmar’s Taga and interacted with the leaders of rebel outfits of Manipur. A photograph of him delivering a lecture at the camp was also published by the media.

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