India, Bangladesh frontier forces begin talks Sunday

Dhaka, March 7 (IANS) Border guards of Bangladesh and India begin talks in New Delhi Sunday hoping the “spirit of the two prime ministers” would percolate down to the men who guard the 4,300 km frontier on both sides.

Leading a 19-member delegation to talks, Director General of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Maj Gen Md Mainul Islam, said the desire of Bangladesh and Indian governments for a new phase in bilateral relations, as emphasised in January during the India visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, should travel down to all levels of the Indian border guards.

“Unfortunately, this common desire has not been echoed in many cases in the field level personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) of India,” he complained to The Daily Star.

“This desire is reciprocal, never one-sided,” the official said on the eve of the six-day talks between the BDR and the BSF starting Sunday.

“We have 100 percent will to fulfil the desire of the two leaders of the two countries. But in many cases we don’t see the same spirit in the ground level on their side,” said Mainul Islam.

He emphasised on “political will” to solve the problem and improve the border situation. “But this will should be communicated with the true spirit of the political decisions,” he said, adding, it is necessary to build confidence between the two nations.

“I would like to tell my counterpart that they must understand the spirit of the two prime ministers,” he said.

The long, winding and partly porous border is criss-crossed by rivers. Smuggling of humans, goods, drugs and cattle is rampant across the border. Dusk-to-dawn border movement is banned by both sides and BSF says its men challenge and then fire in self-defence at people who move across border during night.

Dhaka is not convinced and has raised this issue in successive meetings at different levels.

Meanwhile, a Dhaka rights group claimed ahead of the talks that India’s Border Security Force (BSF) has killed over 900 Bangladeshi civilians in the last decade, 17 of them this year, According to Odhikar, which monitors human rights violations in Bangladesh and its border areas, at least 904 unarmed Bangladeshis have been killed in BSF firing at the border since Jan 1, 2000.

Of them, 789 were killed between Jan 1, 2000 and Dec 31, 2008, 98 in 2009 and 17 between Jan 1, 2010 and March 3, 2010, New Age reported Sunday.

–Indo-Asian News Service


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