Guwahati, (Asian independent) The Border Security Force (BSF) on Friday claimed that as many as 3,204 illegal entrants, including criminals, were apprehended in the Indian territory during the past one year while the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) claimed that there was no infiltration into India from their side.
After the 51st DG level talks (DLT) in Guwahati with the BGB, BSF Director General Rakesh Asthana said that since September this year, the BSF has handed over 60 Bangladeshi nationals to its counterpart.
“When the nationalities were established and illegal entrants were found with no criminal background or activity, the BSF handed over those nationals to the BGB. Where the nationalities of the intruders with criminal record could not be established, they were handed over to the state police for further course of action,” the BSF chief told the media.
BGB Director General Maj Gen Md Shafeenul Islam said: “No illegal infiltrations is going on from Bangladesh to India. The GDP growth of Bangladesh is on a rising trend and it has increased close to $2,300 dollars. Therefore, there is no reason to cross the border, be it for the job or any other reason.
“Recently, 25 fishermen from Bangladesh crossed over to Assam and subsequently the validity of their visa expired and the Indian authority sent them back to Bangladesh. The BSF Chief said that smuggling of various narcotics and cattle is a serious concern as various sysndicates are operating on both sides of the borders.
“Talking of narcotics, cough syrup, which is banned in Bangladesh, and methamphetamine tablets (also called Yaba tablets or party tablets containing a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine), which are smuggled from Myanmar, are the main contraband items along the borders,” the BSF DG said.
He said that in the DG level Border Coordination Conference (BCC), the issue was discussed in depth and with all seriousness and it has been decided to intensify the vigil along the borders.
“Coordinated border patrolling along the borders would be further strengthened. Joint patrolling in the vulnerable areas in the night time would be conducted. We have also identified certain vulnerable areas where smuggling and cross-border activities took place,” Asthana said.
The BGB DG claimed that from 2018 till December 18 this year, 86 Bangladeshi nationals were killed, and killings along the frontier are a major concern for the two border guarding forces.
Asthana said that 10 people, including three civilians, were killed along the border in the recent past while 87 per cent of the killings took place dead in the night.
“Our forces are mostly using non-lethal weapons. When there are attacks or firing, then the BSF uses lethal weapons in self-defence. We are trying to minimise border killings. The police of the northeastern states are also being sensitised as the criminals are taking shelter in the hinterland of the country’s territories,” the BSF chief said.
Regarding cattle smuggling, BGB DG Islam said that due to the smuggling of cattle, Bangladeshi cattle farmers are being greatly affected.
“Infact, Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in cattle. We are even producing more than the actual requirements. Smuggling of cattle from India is illegal. Legally, 400-600 cattle are coming from Myanmar every day,” the BGB chief said.
The BSF DG said that they have proposed to the BGB to celebrate the yearlong programme to commemorate the 50th years of Bangladesh’s Liberation War and they (BGB) have agreed to cooperate.
“During the yearlong commemoration, ex-BSF officers and personnel, Bangladeshi Mukti Yoddha (freedom fighters) and important personalities would be felicitated and the celebration would culminate on December 16 next year,” he said.
Asthana said that besides the professional coordinations, various social and civic action programmes would be undertaken to further strengthen the tie between the forces and the people of the two countries.
The professional programmes include organising medical camps for people in the bordering areas and visits of young people and students to both the countries.
The meeting between the BSF and the BGB, according to an official, also reviewed the ongoing strategies for better coordination between both the border guarding forces deployed along the 4,096 km frontiers, including 1,116 km of riverine boundary, between the two neighbours.
Five Indian states – West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) – share 4,096 km borders with Bangladesh.
The DG level meeting between the BSF and BGB was held for the first time outside the national capital. Since 1975, the meetings between the DGs of BSF and BGB have been held annually, alternately in India and Bangladesh, till 1993.
Since then, the DGs of BSF and BGB have been holding BCC twice a year alternatively at Delhi and Dhaka and the joint record of discussions of these meetings are forwarded to the home ministries of the two countries after each such meeting. The last BSF-BGB meeting was held from September 16-19 this year in Dhaka.