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India ignored Bangla offer of custody
Spl Correspondent
 NEW DELHI, Feb 23 – In an interesting revelation, former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai said that Bangladesh had offered India the custody of Paresh Baruah’s wife and his two children.

Pillai, who was addressing a well-attended book release function titled ‘Rendezvous with Rebels Journey to Meet India’s Most Wanted Men’ by Rajeev Bhattacharyya at the Press Club of India here this afternoon, said that India chose not to act on Dhaka’s offer.

“In fact, we had an option, which we didn’t exercise, when Paresh Baruah’s wife and two children were offered to be handed over by Bangladesh. We didn’t want them to march them in Assam,” the former Home Secretary said.

“We could have brought them here, but what would have happened when journalists quizzed his children in Assamese and his children would have replied in Bengali,” Pillai said in a lighter vein.

But Pillai added that it was very intriguing that Baruah’s two children do not know a word of Assamese. “It is a very interesting question as to why as an Assamese Paresh Baruah’s two children do not know the language,” he said.

“When you are fighting for Assam, at least you should have ensured that your children know Assamese,” he remarked.

Referring to Baruah’s interview in the book, he noted there were some aspects the elusive commander-in-chief avoided: like his business interests in Bangladesh and his contacts there.

Another aspect is that what has happened in Assam in the last three decades. The development in Assam and grant of special category status, students coming out of the State, the vast developments that have taken place are some aspects Paresh Baruah is not aware of. It is very clear that his knowledge of Assam is very limited.

Speaking at the event, former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Veena Sikri said that several vital issues like illegal migration from Bangladesh need to be discussed and resolved. The problem of illegal migration remains unresolved. The Prime Minister has taken it up and it is now time to talk with Dhaka.

Sikri said the issue of illegal migration was recorded in bilateral documents since 1992. Time has come to take the issue on board.

She commented that India, Myanmar and Bangladesh should become areas of growth and hope.

Speaking at the function, journalist-turned author Sanjoy Hazarika said several vital issues remain incomplete, like what is Paresh Baruah’s vision of Assam in the 21st century and what is his vision of ULFA?

What would be the future of the region once Japan and China, besides US and India come together? What would be the fate of these movements, he wondered.

Meanwhile, the author said that North-east separatist rebel outfits have firmed up plans to set up a government-in-exile. “But why at this point of time? We have seen what has happened in the past.”

He further said that the Khaplang faction of NSCN has entered into a written agreement with the Myanmar Government, which the other outfits operating in the country have so far failed to achieve.

The book is a narrative of a journalist’s assignment to the rebel base in Myanmar, which took him three months and 20 days to complete. Escorted by ULFA cadres, Rajeev Bhattacharyya’s journey spanned nearly 800 km through hilly terrain in the neighbouring country. He stayed in the ULFA camp and interviewed its chief of staff Paresh Baruah and also SS Khaplang, the Naga rebel chief.

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