A doctor from Assam in the United Kingdom is facing extradition to India over alleged links to a separatist group, PTI reported. He appeared before a London court on Monday to contest his extradition.
Mukul Hazarika, 75, is a general practitioner at County Durham. He is sought by Indian authorities to face trial for being the alleged chairperson of the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), commonly known as ULFA(I). It was banned by the Indian government in 1990.
The Crown Prosecution Service, representing the Indian government, told District Judge Michael Snow at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday that Hazarika is wanted for his alleged role in the recruitment of members.
“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,” Crown Prosecution Service Barrister Ben Lloyd said, according to PTI.
The court was informed that Hazarika is reportedly known as Abhijeet Asom and he had allegedly made a speech in 2016 to “encourage an armed struggle” for Assam’s “independence” at a camp in Myanmar. He delivered the speech as the chairperson of the ULFA(I), PTI reported
Lloyd submitted an affidavit from an investigating officer attesting to Hazarika’s involvement.
However, the doctor denied all the allegations. His barrister, Ben Cooper, submitted that the case against Hazarika lacks substantive evidence and the contents of the supposedly incriminating speech in Myanmar are not available, PTI reported.
Cooper added that Hazarika’s alleged role as a “self-styled” chairperson is also undefined. The barrister claimed that the doctor is being targeted by the Indian government for being a dissenting voice in the North East.
“He has a long background in human rights advocacy although trained as a doctor, he is committed to open dialogue to defend the human rights of the people of Assam,” said Cooper, according to PTI.
The defence lawyer stated that the National Investigation Agency is involved in the case at the behest of the Indian government. Cooper added that his client could face a life sentence without parole and highlighted the prison conditions Hazarika would be subjected to if he was extradited.
Hazarika is currently out on bail under electronic tag curfew provisions. He was arrested last July. He is in London during the extradition hearing, which will continue next week, PTI reported.