The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha talks tough on border

Behrampore/ Raigunj, Feb. 3: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said he would pull out all stops to ensure that the flow of people from across the Bangladesh border was stopped “completely”.

“We want it (infiltration) stopped completely. We cannot let it continue,” Bhattacharjee said.

The chief minister said Dhaka was out to vindicate its faulty stand that there were no Bangladeshis staying on illegally in India. “They (Dhaka) are out to create pressure on us to try and falsely prove that there were Indians staying in Bangladesh without valid documents,” Bhattacharjee said, referring to the face-off at Cooch Behar between the Border Security Force and the Bangladesh Rifles over the “push-back” issue.

Bhattacharjee praised the BSF for not allowing the BDR to push Bangladeshis into India. However, he also hauled up the border guards for their atrocities on villagers staying close to the international boundary.

“All the persons the BDR is trying to push back in Cooch Behar are Bangladeshis. We cannot accept such actions by our neighbours,” Bhattacharjee said. The chief minister said he would discuss the issue with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani on February 8 in Delhi.

“Though the men, women and children stranded in Cooch Behar are not our citizens, we have arranged for the Red Cross to reach food, water, medicines and tarpaulin sheets to them. But we will not tolerate such gambits and I am satisfied with the BSF stand,” Bhattacharjee said. However, the chief minister did not mince words while coming down on atrocities committed by the BSF throughout the state.

“Not only Murshidabad, the BSF has done wrong things in Bongaon, too. While they have shot dead a school student here last month, they have also killed a truck driver down in Bongaon,” he claimed.

Bhattacharjee said steps were being taken to minimise these harsh acts on the part of the BSF. “The state government officials have spoken to the BSF’s additional director-general and we have instructed district magistrates of the relevant districts to keep meeting the BSF’s senior officers regularly,” he said.

The chief minister urged the BSF to allow all Indian citizens in the border areas to carry out their daily chores like farming and taking cattle out to pasture. Analysing the reasons behind the outbreak of violence among the BSF, the chief minister noted that most of the jawans had been on duty in sensitive areas like Kashmir, Rajasthan and Punjab, where they have to be on full alert. “They treat the border here like those in the western and northern sectors,” said Bhattacharjee.

The chief minister also mentioned the state government’s decision to issue photo identity cards to people residing in border villages. These cards have to be collected from the district magistrate’s office. “This is going to be done soon and will be given free of charge to the very poor. They can spend as long as they like working close to the border and the BSF cannot prevent them from doing so,” Bhattacharjee emphasised.

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