Indian Border Security Force (BSF) has reiterated its policy of using non-lethal weapons on the Bangladesh-India border.
The BSF made the assurance in response to the concerns expressed by Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on border deaths.
“I must say our policy is to bring down this killing to a zero level…we’re committed to doing that in order to reach that figure,” said Director General (DG) of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Rakesh Asthana during a joint briefing at the BGB headquarters in the city.
The BSF assured that all unarmed and innocent trespassers and victims of human trafficking will be handed over to BGB personnel.
The BSF suggestion to launch joint operations against trans cross-border smugglers upon receipt of specific intelligence on their criminal activities was welcomed by BGB.
This was discussed at the Director General Level Talks of BGB and BSF held on September 16-19, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
The 13-member Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) delegation, led by its Director General Md. Shafeenul Islam, participated in the talks.
A six-member Border Security Force (BSF) delegation, headed by its Director General Rakesh Asthana, visited Dhaka from 16-19 September 2020 to discuss various issues related to Bangladesh-India border management and security in the DGLT.
Referring to the border talks between the two border forces of the two close neighboring countries, the DG BSF said they have assured BGB counterart that they can bring it down with the Joint Coordinated Patrolling system, which was stopped due to COVID-19.
Replying to a question, the BGB DG said Major General Md Shafeenul Islam said they are satisfied over the assurance of his BSF counterpart to bring down the killing to a zero level.
He also said the DG BSF would do its best for avoiding the loss of human lives across the border taking preventive measures.
The DG BGB said the Joint Coordinated Patrolling system, which was stopped for COVID-19 outbreak, will start soon.
Expressing concern over the recent push-in of mentally challenged persons, both sides agreed to verify the nationality of the mentally challenged persons and thereafter the handing/taking process can be expedited with the cooperation from one another, sources at the meeting said.
During the discussions, both the border forces, BSF and BGB, made several proposals to reduce the cross-border crimes and strengthen their security cooperation.
BSF has launched a systematic campaign against the smuggling of codeine based cough syrup in the bordering districts of India and will redouble efforts to reduce the cross-border drugs and narcotics smuggling.
The BGB appreciated the ongoing concerted efforts of BSF in substantially reducing the smuggling of narcotics.
Both the border forces recognised the increasingly violent attacks on them by cross-border cattle smuggling gangs and agreed to exchange intelligence on smuggling syndicates and list of smugglers to make efforts to significantly reduce the smuggling in order to ensure the India-Bangladesh border remains peaceful and secure.
BSF has proposed nominating officials in both the border forces as the nodal officials for exchanging such real time intelligence.
The Director General, BSF has proposed initiating joint patrols in cattle smuggling/ smuggling prone areas to reduce the menace of all kinds of smuggling.
The BGB has welcomed the initiative and both the forces agreed that identification of vulnerable areas needs to be in response to the new methods being adopted by the trans-border smuggling syndicates.
Recognising the difficulties in identifying the nationality of mentally challenged persons, BSF has proposed creating a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to address such incidents on the border.
BGB has suggested issuing daily passes for the people residing in the bordering villages so that they can visit their relatives on the Indian side.
BSF has welcomed the suggestion and both the forces agreed to work out a mechanism in consultation with agencies/Ministries concerned to facilitate such social visits.
Reiterating the policy of zero tolerance against terrorism, BGB has requested specific intelligence and proposed conducting joint operations against insurgent groups, if any.
The DG BGB assured that there is no IIGs camp/hideout inside Bangladesh.
He mentioned that Bangladesh does not allow her soil to be used by any entity or element hostile to any country particularly India and assured all possible help in this regard.
The onset of COVID pandemic has forced both the forces to stop coordinated patrols on the border.
Both the Director Generals agreed to resume these patrols on the border to build mutual confidence in both the forces and also to reduce the cross-border crimes.
Both the border forces decided to continue their confidence-building measures and training programmes after the ongoing pandemic subsides.
Responding to the request of BGB, BSF assured its cooperation in completing all riverbank protection works in the bordering areas of Bangladesh as per approval of SAM Joint River Commission.
Earlier of the joint briefing, the both DGs signed at a Joint Record of Discussions of the 50th border conference.
Both sides agreed to undertake joint efforts to bring down the number of incidents of assault/attacks to zero by increasing coordinated patrols in vulnerable areas and educating the border population about the sanctity of IB and preventing criminals from crossing the IB (international border).