Monday, March 19, 2012
Dhaka rejects Delhi’s curfew suggestion
Star Online Report
Bangladesh has rejected India’s suggestion to impose night curfew along its areas very close to the border to check illegal cross-border movement.
The rejection came during a four-day director general-level talks between Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) that ended on Monday, our New Delhi correspondent reported.
“We don’t believe in curfew. Every citizen of country has equal right to movement within the boundary of the country. We don’t believe in imposing restrictions on movement of our people,” BGB chief Maj Gen Anwar Hussain said at a joint media interaction after the meeting.
“However, we have to sensitise our people to respect the border and not to cross the border without documents,” he added.
The two forces agreed to implement a three-pronged initiative to reduce incidents of border firing to the minimum level possible.
“Both sides agreed for additional vigilance particularly in the areas earmarked sensitive Border Outposts and examine other possible measures that could be taken to restrict movement of smugglers and drug traffickers in bordering areas during hours of darkness,” reads a joint press statement issued after the meeting.
Addressing the joint media interaction with his counterpart, BSF DG UK Bansal said: “We have decided to take further measures to minimise the use of lethal weapons, and we shall avoid at all costs use of lethal force against unarmed people and those inadvertently crossing the border.”
Detailing the three-pronged initiative, Hussain said additional security forces would be deployed by the two sides at several “vulnerable patches” along the porous border, people residing in border areas will be sensitised against illegal cross-border movement, and information would be shared real-time by BGB and BSF on movement of smugglers and other criminals during “hours of darkness”.
Border guards on both sides have the responsibility to ensure safety and security of the people living along the bordering areas, Hussain said.
“We made it very clear in this meeting that we don’t expect any killing of unarmed civilian and both sides have taken measures towards ensuring this.”
Bansal said the policy decision to bring down the incidence of border firing along the border was taken by the two governments and the home ministers of the two countries when they had met in New Delhi in February and to implement that decision “is our shared concern”.
Regarding border violence, the meeting also agreed to introduce an effective working system of communication particularly at operational level to swiftly inform the counterpart of important incidents.
The meeting reached an understanding on practical modalities for implementing the decisions taken during the meeting of Bangladesh Home Minister Shahara Khatun and her counterpart P Chidambaram in New Delhi recently.
“We have common enemies to fight. We reached a consensus. We agreed to go beyond the limits of our jurisdiction to solve issues by implementing certain decisions on the ground instead of allowing the issues to linger on,” Hussain said.
Asked if BGB would, as a confidence-building measure, consider using non-lethal weapons to reciprocate BSF’s use of the same, the BGB chief ruled it out saying “We don’t have any plan to introduce non-lethal weapons because we don’t believe in killing unarmed people.”
On Bangladesh’s concern over smuggling of phensedyl from India, Bansal said: “We have taken some extraordinary measures” to stop the menace by seizing 33 lakh bottles in the last five years.
There are reports to indicate that people wanted in India escape to Bangladesh and are sheltered in that country and we have given a list of 21 such people and 51 insurgent camps in Bangladesh, he said, adding that the Bangladesh side had agreed to check the lists.
“We’re fully satisfied with the level of cooperation we got from Bangladesh to apprehend the insurgents.”
Replying to a query, Hussain said Bangladesh territory will never be allowed to be used against any other country, particularly a friendly country like India.
Smuggling of phensedyl into Bangladesh and smuggling of fake currencies into India “is of equal concern, Bansal said, adding: “Both sides are talking in terms of exchanging photos of smugglers and exchanging interrogation reports of wanted people.”
Regarding fencing within 150 yards of the international border in 185 patches, both sides agreed to start joint survey in first week of April by joint teams comprising BGB and BSF men, the joint statement said.
“Realising the growing threat posed by the criminals and pirates in the Sunderbans, both sides agreed to intensify patrolling,” it added.
On the contentious issue of undertaking developmental works within 150 yards of international border, the two sides agreed to inform each other well in advance before starting any such work.
Hussain led a 22-member delegation at the talks with the BSF.