The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flag meet fails, Bangla border stays on the boil

Cooch Behar, Feb. 2: As a flag meeting between the Border Security Force and Bangladesh Rifles failed to end the Satgachhi standoff, the authorities said a fresh attempt by the BDR to “push in” infiltrators was foiled last night at Jamaldaha in the north Bengal district.

District magistrate Chandan Sinha said the BDR had tried to get some 100 Bangladeshis into the Indian territory under the cover of darkness at Jamaldaha. They were, however, spotted by the BSF jawans patrolling the border. “The jawans have been on high alert since Friday, when the BDR tried to get 213 Bangladeshis into our territory at Satgachhi. They immediately foiled the BDR’s design,” the district magistrate said.

The two border forces today held a flag meeting at Satgachhi in an effort to end the three-day stalemate. But the meeting remained inconclusive with both sides refusing to budge.

“The BDR refused to accept documents like electricity bills as proof of the infiltrators’ Bangladeshi origins,” Sinha said.

BSF officer Dhanalal Choudhury said: “The interest shown by India towards solving the problem was not being reciprocated from the other side of the border.”

Despite the BDR’s repeated denials, some of the stranded families told visiting journalists that they were indeed from Bangladesh and were “pushed in” at gunpoint.

“We fail to understand why they (BDR) drove us away from our own country,” Amina Begum, a stranded mother of three, said.

The impasse has started to tell on the health of those stranded in the open. A number of children have fallen sick and some of the babies have developed pneumonia.

Chowdhury said the Red Cross has been providing medical help and aid to the stranded families.

Jarip Mian, one of those stranded, said he and several others were voters of the primary school booth at Savar in Bangladesh.

Mian added that the BDR had forced them to cross over to Satgachhi on Thursday night. Mian said they were snake charmers who sold herbs for a living.

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