Silchar, Aug. 10: Border friction between India and Bangladesh reached a flashpoint today when a mortar fired by paramilitary forces of the neighbouring country killed two villagers in Cachar district of Assam.
Two more were also wounded when the mortar landed on the roof of their house last night.
The BSF had warned of a “war-like situation” on the south Assam sector of the Indo-Bangladesh border last month after spotting bunkers built by the Bangladesh Rifles.
BSF sources said Bangladesh Rifles personnel opened fire without provocation at two border outposts in the Harinagar-Kinnarkal area of Cachar district and Tukergram in Karimganj district around 10.15 pm yesterday. The BSF soldiers retaliated immediately and mortars, carbines and machineguns crackled on both sides of the border throughout the night.
BSF sources confirmed that the exchange of fire continued uninterrupted beyond daybreak, ending only at 7 am.
Police sources at Kathigorah police station said more than 3,000 people with homes along the border had fled to relatively safer areas since last night. A relief camp was opened for the villagers in a school near Silchar.
At least 2,500 people have been evacuated since the first showdown between the BSF and the Bangladesh Rifles in this sector on June 28. The skirmish site is located in Kathigorah block, 40 km west of Silchar.
Firing by the BDR had earlier been limited to Harinagar village. But this time, exchange of fire extended to the nearby villages of Tukergram and Labourputa, BSF sources confirmed.
“This indicates that Bangladesh Rifles elaborately planned the exercise,” a BSF officer said.
The two persons killed in mortar firing were from a family in Kinnapkhal village. The victims were identified as 30-year-old Supriti Dey, wife of trader Milon Dey, and his 20-year-old sister Santa. Injured villagers are undergoing treatment in BSF camps.
BSF deputy inspector-general (south Assam) A.K. Singh and 64 Battalion commandant B. Sengupta led the BSF’s response to firing from the other side of the border. The Cachar and Karimganj district administration positioned police and paramilitary forces as a second line of defence.
Cachar deputy commissioner Gautam Ganguly and his Karimganj counterpart Anurag Goel today reviewed the situation with BSF officials.
Sources said a sector commander-level meeting between the BSF and Bangladesh Rifles would be held on Sunday to defuse tension along the border. The meeting will be held in Kathigorah.
On whether that meant India would continue to maintain restraint in the face of aggression by Bangladesh, a BSF spokesman said: “The BSF is aware of a military build-up since the past month and is taking necessary steps.”