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Bangla team on Pak border trip

New Delhi, Aug. 21: The Border Security Force is taking a team from Bangladesh’s border force BGB on a tour of the India-Pakistan boundary in Rajasthan as part of their first “joint exercises” decided upon earlier in the day.

Usually, the BSF, after a meeting on the first day of their twice-a-year Border Coordination Conference — held either in Dhaka or Delhi — guides the visiting BGB delegation to Ajmer Sharif or the Taj Mahal in Agra. There have been visits to Amritsar, too, but this year it’s different.

BGB chief Major General Aziz Ahmed and his team have gone to Jodhpur and Jaisalmer to get a first-hand experience of how the BSF guards the India-Pakistan border.

After their customary meeting where they launched the “Umbrella of Joint Exercises” concept, BSF director-general D.K. Pathak and Ahmed called on Union home minister Rajnath Singh and then the two teams left for the two-day “educational tour”.

Rajnath expressed satisfaction on the border situation as the two border forces are taking necessary confidence-building measures.

Yesterday, the BSF and the Border Guard Bangladesh played a “Maitri Cup” basketball match here, which the Indian side won. The Bangladesh delegation will wrap up their visit on Monday.

“The India-Bangladesh border is a peaceful border but like us they also have an ‘active’ border with Myanmar. The visit to Rajasthan is meant to help them familiarise with how the BSF handles an active border,” a source told The Telegraph.

Bangladesh has had troubles along its Myanmar border that saw disturbances earlier this year.

“The BGB is mostly constituted of Bangladesh army personnel now, so an exposure to border guarding nuances would be helpful,” said an official.

Sources said the BSF, with its experience of different guarding styles on the Pakistan and Bangladesh borders and along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, would help the BGB build capacities. Joint training exercises would be held periodically, the sources added. The BSF will also train BGB officers and personnel in advanced border guarding techniques.

Coordination conferences at the director-general level, primarily to address border crime along the 4,096km border between the two countries, have been institutionalised since 1995. Today, the two forces agreed that joint exercises should also be institutionalised for closer contact between them.

The two sides discussed concerns over smuggling of narcotics and fake Indian currency notes, joint efforts for prevention of illegal migration and human trafficking of Bangladeshi nationals into India and effective implementation of the coordinated border management plan to stem trans-border crimes.

At the political level, India has to ratify the Land Boundary Agreement signed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina. The constitutional amendment bill to ratify the agreement has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha.