The Telegraph
Sunday , July 16 , 2017

BSF, BGB talk security

BSF Meghalaya Frontier inspector-general P.K. Dubey and BGB additional director-general Md Zahid Hasan in Shillong on Saturday

Shillong, July 15: The Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) and the BSF today maintained that Indian militants no longer have camps in the neighbouring country.

Officials from both the border guards have been meeting here since Wednesday for the bi-annual border coordination meeting. They have deliberated on a wide range of issues, including drugs and cattle smuggling, killing of Bangladeshi nationals and other trans-border crimes.

BSF Meghalaya Frontier inspector-general P.K. Dubey and BGB additional director-general Md Zahid Hasan maintained that unlike in the past, militant groups from India no longer have camps on Bangladeshi soil.

"There are no regulated camps which were there 10 years ago. This is because of concerted efforts at all levels," Dubey said.

However, he said, some militants were hiding in the forest or in relatives' houses by changing identity or by marrying local girls there along the border.

"These (presence of camps in Bangladesh) are perceptions. Frankly speaking, there are no militants from India taking shelter in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has taken the toughest stand on this and there is zero tolerance of militant activities," Hasan said.

Both sides also met Meghalaya director-general of police S.B. Singh yesterday and held deliberations on the issue.

"We had a discussion with the Meghalaya police director-general. We are getting cooperation from the BGB. Our intelligence agencies are trying to get information about the presence of militants and such information will be forwarded to the BGB," Dubey said.

Hasan said the BGB will act "firmly" if there are militants present in Bangladesh.

Smuggling: The BGB expressed concern over cattle being smuggled into Bangladesh as this was harming the country's economy.

"It is a fact that cattle is being smuggled from India to Bangladesh. Cattle cannot cross the border on its own and it needs some assistance. Both the nationals are involved in this smuggling. The cattle comes from deep inside India. We have requested the BSF not to allow Indian nationals to indulge in this racket," Hasan said.

Stating that cattle smuggling is "hurting" Bangladesh economy, Hasan said, "If it (cattle) does not come from India, then our dairy farmers can go up and we can take care of ourselves. We have requested the BSF to stop cattle smuggling as other related issues can be resolved if cattle smuggling is stopped."

According to the BSF, from 2011 till 2016, more than 8,000 cattle were seized by the border troops along the India-Bangladesh border in the Meghalaya sector. This amounts to more than Rs 9 crore.

On drugs smuggling along the international border, Hasan said Bangladesh does not produce drugs. "Drugs from India are flooding the Bangladesh border which is destabilising the social balance of the country, especially the youth," Hasan said.

On tackling trans-border crimes, Dubey said both sides have agreed to conduct joint patrolling.

Hasan said while Bangladesh has "zero tolerance" towards smuggling of fire arms and explosives, human trafficking and drugs, both sides have agreed upon confidence-building measures between the two forces on the ground.

A statement issued by the BSF said the Indian border troops provide facts and figures of all trans-border crimes committed by Bangladeshi nationals inside Indian territory, apprehension of Bangladeshi nationals who illegally entered Indian territory, seizure details regarding narcotics and other contraband items.

The BSF requested the BGB to take effective measures to stop illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals and prevention of trans-border crimes.

The BGB delegation raised concern over firing on Bangladesh nationals by Indian nationals, kidnapping of Bangladesh nationals, illegal trespassing by Indian nationals into Bangladesh territory, smuggling of narcotics from India into Bangladesh.

The statement said the BSF had told the delegation that they are exercising "maximum restraint" and resort to firing as a last option in self-defence.

It was also informed that BSF personnel are now using non-lethal weapons like pump-action guns and stun grenades along the border, which have resulted in considerable change in the environment on the border.

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