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Jawans in west, crisis in east

March 13: The director-general of the Border Security Force today said lack of manpower was hampering border policing and attempts to keep in check infiltration from Bangladesh.

“Eleven battalions of BSF units pressed to guard the Indo-Bangla border along the state had to be shifted to Jammu and Kashmir, sparking off a crisis here,” said Ajai Raj Sharma.

“We are hamstrung by a lack of manpower along the Bangladesh border in the state. We are trying to bring back some of the shifted units,’’ he added.

Sharma had a long meeting with state chief secretary S.N. Roy, home secretary Amit Kiran Deb and director-general of police D.C. Vajpai at Writers’ Buildings this morning.

“We discussed five contentious issues — the timing of the opening of gates along the border, the usage of border roads by the public, the jurisdiction of the BSF, erosion of the riverbank along the border and formation of small, new islands,’’ he said.

Sharma said the Centre has sanctioned Rs 100 crore to fence the border and the Union home ministry is “closely monitoring” the work. “Initially, there was a problem because of different types of terrain but we are now using sophisticated technology to overcome it. We expect the fencing work to be complete within 2005,’’ he said.

On the timings for opening the border gates, Sharma said he will issue instructions to his men to liaise with village elders and elected representatives. “I have made it clear that they need to work out the timings in consultation with the villagers so that they suit them,’’ he said.

The BSF would put up signboards along the border roads instructing villagers on how to use them. “But we will restrict the movement of heavy vehicles and bullock carts because engineers have objected to them saying such vehicles damage the road surface,’ he added.

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