The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi to step up Bangla border vigil

New Delhi, Feb. 7: Stepping up pressure on people wanting to cross over from Bangladesh, India wants to send a message “that illegal infiltration is a dangerous and risky business”.

Raising vigilance on the 4,096-km border and making it a zero infiltration zone is one way to reduce influx. At the same time, diplomatic pressure must be put on Bangladesh to make sure that at least the government does not encourage the exodus into India’s eastern states.

North Block sees Dhaka’s decision to take back the 213 snake charmers as a small step in the right direction. “By taking this group back, Bangladesh has, for the first time, indirectly accepted that there are illegal immigrants from their country. Earlier, they would not concede even this much,” a senior official, who did not wish to be identified, said.

However, stepping up vigil on the border is easier said than done, considering the terrain and lack of adequate and well-trained manpower.

In the last decade, the BSF personnel deployed to man the eastern border have been reduced to one-third of their original strength as most of the battalions were shifted to Kashmir to counter terrorist operations.

The Centre is now thinking of replacing the BSF with the Central Reserve Police Force in Kashmir, but this will take over two years. In the meantime, the sensitive eastern border remains poorly manned. The Centre has decided to raise more forces, but recruitment and training will take some time.

The Special Service Bureau is being deployed to patrol the border in Bhutan to spare some BSF battalions for the Bangladesh border.

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