Dhaka/New Delhi: Top ULFA leader Anup Chetia may be deported to India from Bangladesh as a major confidence-building measure ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka early next month.

Bangladesh Home Minister Sahara Khatun said in Dhaka on Wednesday that "I don't think there is any obstacle in handing him (Chetia) over to India ... but definitely, there are procedures in extraditing someone who is in jail".

Asked what legal procedure would allow Bangladesh to hand over Chetia to India in the absence of an extradition treaty, Khatun said, "I can't explain to you the details right at this
moment but I can tell you both Bangladesh and India could exchange the people wanted in their own country maintaining the legal procedures."

"Chetia has expired his term in jail in Bangladesh ... still he is in jail and some procedures will have to be followed to return him," Khatun said.

In New Delhi, official sources said "there is a possibility that Chetia may be deported before the visit of the Prime Minister to Bangladesh in first week of next month. If it happens, it will be a major Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between the two countries".

Chetia was arrested in Bangladesh in 1997 and is under detention on completion of his jail term for forging travel documents.

Singh's scheduled visit Dhaka on September 6-7 is expected to mark a "new beginning" in bilateral ties as some crucial issues like Teesta and Feni river water-sharing and exchange of enclaves are likely to be resolved.

On Monday, Home Minister P Chidamabarm, who was in Dhaka on July 29-30, had said "Anup Chetia is in jail. There is a case against him so it's tied up with what the court will do.

But we have made a request that Anup Chetia should be handed over to India as early as possible."

Chidambaram was understood to have raised the Chetia issue during his talks in Dhaka. Since his arrest in 1997, India has been asking the Bangladesh government to hand over 54-year old Chetia.

India has been raising the deportation issue at various meetings with Bangladesh, the sources said, adding before the Home Minister, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had also raised the issue with his counterpart Dipu Moni who had given a very "positive" response.

"If it is a question of just one individual, I think the two governments can always work out a way", Moni had told a group of Indian journalists who had accompanied Krishna to Dhaka in July.

Reflecting growing security cooperation extended by the Sheikh Hasina government to India, ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and some other key leaders of the insurgent outfit like Sasadhar Choudhury and Chitroban Hazarika were handed over to India in December 2009.

The Centre has already held preliminary peace talks with ULFA and a formal dialogue is expected to begin soon.

Indian authorities have given to Dhaka a list of 50 of their nationals, who are now allegedly hiding or detained in Bangladesh, seeking their return.

"Anup Chetia's name is on the top of the list," Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder told newsmen.

(Agencies)