The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BSF boss lines up Dhaka mission

Calcutta, April 6: Border Security Force chief Ajai Raj Sharma will lead a delegation of senior officers to Dhaka on April 27 to discuss contentious issues and hammer out a strategy to avoid standoffs along the India-Bangladesh border.

Sharma’s mission gains importance as it comes in the wake of a serious confrontation over infiltrators in Cooch Behar and Malda that sent bilateral relations in a nose-dive.

Delhi had conveyed its concern over increasing incidents of infiltration and the presence of a vast number of illegal settlers to the Bangladeshi foreign minister even as Dhaka protested. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, too, had voiced anxiety at the refusal of Bangladeshi border troops to take back their citizens caught on the Indian side.

The BSF director-general said he would meet his Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) counterpart and senior officers of the home ministry in Dhaka.

Among the issues topping his agenda will be formalisation of logistics for coordination among BSF and BDR men patrolling the border. Sharma explained that commanders on both sides would coordinate the timing of patrols. “It will be effective in curbing infiltration and identifying smugglers,” he said.

Currently, there is a lack of such coordination. “While BSF men are patrolling a particular stretch of the border, BDR men might not be there on the opposite side and vice-versa,” deputy inspector-general of BSF Ranjit Pachnanda said.

Talks will be held to put in place a mechanism to share intelligence and information on criminals, smugglers and infiltrators.

Sharma said the border forces would nominate officers who would meet regularly and keep in touch over the hotline to share information on rogue elements and conduct joint raids to flush out criminals, arrest them and hand them over to their native police.

The director-general will also stress on laying down “common minimum points” to identify the nationality of infiltrators. “We will formalise a set of guidelines to identify the nationality of infiltrators within a specified timeframe,” Sharma said. Till the time the nationality of an infiltrator is established, he would be kept in a police lock-up.

The issue of alleged ISI camps along the border in Bangladesh and reports that suspected militants are being trained there to carry out subversive activities in India will be taken up in the Dhaka meeting.

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