Silchar, Aug. 11: The Border Security Force today indicated that Sunday’s proposed sector commander-level meeting with Bangladesh might not materialise because Bangladesh Rifles has been incommunicado since mortar fire from its positions killed two women and injured four other residents of a village in the south Assam sector.
A semblance of normality, however, returned to villages on the international border in Cachar with the district administration coaxing those who had fled in the wake of mortar fire to come back to their homes.
Mortars and machineguns had crackled on both sides of the fence from Wednesday night until well after dawn yesterday. Two women, 30-year-old Supriti Dey and her 20-year-old sister-in-law Shanta, were killed in the first burst of firing from across the border. Both were residents of Kinnapkhal village.
Over 1,000 villagers fled their homes along a 32-km stretch of the border in the wake of the firing. Official sources said some residents began returning to their homes this morning.
Cachar deputy commissioner Goutam Ganguli visited some of the border villages yesterday to reassure the residents that they had nothing to fear. “The BSF is patrolling the areas and will always protect you,” he was quoted as saying.
The BSF confirmed that five Bangladesh Rifles personnel, including an officer of the rank of Major, died in the exchange of fire. Eight Bangladeshi soldiers were critically wounded. Nobody from the BSF was injured or killed, an officer said.
S.K. Dutta, the BSF inspector-general in charge of Tripura, Cachar and Mizoram, said Bangladesh Rifles personnel violated international protocol by firing on civilians and killing two women.
On whether India would continue to maintain restraint in the face of aggression, a BSF spokesman has said yesterday that border forces would do whatever is required to protect the border and residents on this side of the fence.
“The BSF is aware of a military build-up since the past month and is taking necessary steps.”