Terming border killings “unfortunate deaths”, Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Director General Rajni Kant Mishra yesterday said such incidents had increased this year.
“The word you used ‘killings’; I would call it unfortunate deaths of some individuals…. I agree, this year the rate is slightly higher,” he said, while replying to a query after a director general-level border conference at the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) headquarters in the capital.
A 19-member team lead by BGB DG Maj Gen Md Shafeenul Islam participated in the four-day conference, which began on June 12, attended by a 10-member Indian delegation led by the BSF DG.
Mishra claimed that seven people were killed in the borders last year, of whom six were Indians and only one was Bangladeshi.
His figures, however, contradict those of Bangladeshi rights body Ain o Salish Kendra, which puts the number of Bangladeshis to 15.
In the last five and a half months alone, the number is being estimated to be at 15.
Mishra claimed one BSF man was killed and 39 others were injured in the borders last year. Three Indian nationals were killed this year.
He said they used non-lethal weapons in the borders and firearms were used rarely, when there was “no other option”.
All such incidents took place on Indian territory and were followed by lodging of FIRs in local police stations and subsequent investigations, he claimed.
“We have trained our forces to show maximum restraint. But sometimes the situation turns ugly and our men are attacked with stones, sticks and sharp weapons,” the BSF DG said.
Mishra also referred to the incident of BGB firing in Thakurgaon that left three villagers killed on February 12 this year and said criminals in Bangladesh were engaging in gunbattle with Bangladeshi law enforcers.
Rights activists, however, cast doubt about the authenticity of such “shootouts”, with family members of many victims claiming they were killed soon after being picked up by law enforcers.
Meanwhile, BGB chief Shafeenul said they had raised their concern at the increasing number of border killings during the conference.
He said the number of deaths this year was eight and both forces agreed to keep that number unchanged.
Earlier, when asked about the latest development in two sensational border killings, including the much-talked about Felani killing, the BSF DG had said he had no update.
Replying to a query on the source of yaba smuggling into the Bangladesh through India, Mishra said none of the two countries was the sources of the contraband items.
During the conference, both sides agreed to undertake joint efforts to bring down border killing incidents to zero, prevent human trafficking and illegal crossing, and prevent smuggling of illegal arms, ammunition, explosives, drug and gold through increasing coordinated patrols in vulnerable border areas, according to a joint statement.
Both sides also exchanged lists of criminals and smugglers operating in the bordering area and sought assistance to address the issues, it added.