BSF pledges to end border death in the wake of repeated failures

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INDIA’S Border Security Force at a conference with the Border Guard Bangladesh, which took place in Dhaka in September 16–19, has iterated its pledge once again to end the killing of Bangladeshis. The Indian border force’s director general, who was put to head the force in the middle of August, has said that the Indian guards are committed to ending the death of Bangladeshis in the frontiers, at a joint press briefing after the 50th border conference, where the chiefs of the border guards of both Bangladesh and India have also agreed to continue with a coordinated border patrol, intelligence sharing and an awareness campaign to stop cross-border smuggling of cattle, narcotic substances and forged currencies. India has repeatedly promised to end the death of Bangladeshis in the frontiers and to use non-lethal weapons in border control to this end. But this has not happened. Indian guards are reported to have killed 34 Bangladeshis in the frontiers this year till August while the Indian guards killed 43 Bangladeshis in 2019 and 15 in 2018, as Bangladeshi rights group data show. The Indian guards are said to have killed 1,185 Bangladeshis in 2000–2019, as another rights group says.

The chiefs of both the Indian and the Bangladesh border force said the death in the frontiers were ‘unfortunate’ and noted that people come to be killed inside India. The statement does not appear to be true. There have also been cases in which the Indian guards shot into Bangladeshis inside the Bangladesh territory and, even, intruded into Bangladesh and picked up unarmed civilians. A team of Indian guards on September 21, 2018 breached the international border, entered Bangladesh through the frontiers in Brahmanbaria and fired gunshots, leaving at least six villagers wounded. There is a series of such intrusion by the Indian guards reported in December, October and July in 2015, in December 2013 and in March 2012, shooting Bangladesh civilians dead, burning houses, exploding bombs, and stopping sand extraction. Although Indian guards gave the night-time reduced visibility as a ground for shooting people in the head, chest or abdomen, in a recent incident, the Indian guards shot dead a Bangladeshi, who was fishing in a river in Thakurgaon, at 10:00am on September 10; he was hit in the chest. Indian guards shot dead a 16-year-old Bangladesh boy in Panchagarh about 4:00pm on April 19 this year when he was helping his father erect a fence around their jute field. Bangladeshis managing to go deep inside India, which the Indian guards give as an excuse for such shooting, also calls into question the border control by the Indian border force.

Indian guards have so far hardly showed any restraints and have never ceased to use lethal weapons although the India-Bangladesh Coordinated Border Management Plan, signed in July 2011, says that ‘neither side will resort to use of lethal weapons except in self defence against terrorists or smugglers. Patrols on both sides shall exercise maximum restraint.’ All this appears to be happening in the frontiers because of high-handedness of the Indian border guards and Indian authorities as well as the capitualistic policy of Dhaka towards New Delhi. All this must stop. Dhaka must push it forward while New Delhi should understand that death of Bangladeshis in the frontiers must end.

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