12:00 AM, September 08, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:12 AM, September 08, 2018

No large-scale migration into India taking place: BGB chief

Border Guards Bangladesh yesterday said there was no large-scale migration of people into India as people of Bangladesh now "enjoy a very good quality of life" and the few who cross the border do so due to their old cultural and family ties.

BGB DG Maj Gen Shafeenul Islam said this while talking to media after the end of five days of biannual talks with his Indian counterpart KK Sharma, at the BSF's Chhawla camp on Delhi's border with Haryana.

He said BGB has intercepted about 100 such illegal trespassers at the border in the last six months.

"There is no large-scale infiltration from Bangladesh. As you know that the development curve in Bangladesh...we are having a GDP growth of 7.1 percent and the people enjoy a very good quality life now in Bangladesh. So, there is hardly any migration in an organised way or on a large scale," Shafeenul said at the press conference.

The BGB DG said the people of Bangladesh who are mostly crossing illegally is because of cultural ties and relations that they have across the border. "Many of their relatives are there  (India) and they are visiting in that connection. But they come back after visiting their friends and family. We have found out that this is mostly the case," Shafeenul said.

The Border Security Force (BSF) DG, on his part, said they have apprehended a total of 1,522 illegal Bangladeshi migrants this year till now and they were subsequently handed over to the local police. Of them, 166 were inadvertent trespassers while some were victims of human trafficking, Sharma added.

He said BSF is “sensitising” its troops to differentiate between trafficking victims and perpetrators of the crime.  

The BGB chief said the number of killings of Bangladeshi nationals at the hands of BSF along the 4,096km border has come down.

"Bangladesh has more concern about the border killings and this is mostly happening with those who were associated with cattle smuggling. Having understood that, both the forces have worked together on this front...we were able to take down (the figure of border killing) to only one,” Maj Gen Shafeenul said. 

"We have agreed to take it down to zero level. We are alert at the border so that it (cattle smuggling) does not take place. We also want this to completely stop at the border and are closely working with BSF," he said.

Both the border guard chiefs said incidents of cattle smuggling across this border have gone down over the years.

The biannual BGB-BSF meeting decided to open five more "crime free" zones along the border along the lines of the one that was launched in March in West Bengal. 

A crime-free zone is a selected border location that is clear of illegal, anti-social and criminal activities by integrating the efforts of BSF and BGB, with assistance from the district administration, NGOs and border population of both the countries, a BSF officer explained.

Sharma said BSF uses non-lethal weapons at the border “with utmost restraint and minimum possible force is used even in the face of dangerous assaults by armed criminals.”

Acknowledging the cooperation extended by BGB and other security agencies of Bangladesh to cope with Indian insurgent groups, the BSF head sought further cooperation from  BGB to eliminate remaining insurgent groups.

The BGB DG said there is no Indian insurgents groups' hideout inside Bangladesh and clarified that “Bangladesh does not allow its soil to be used by any entities or elements hostile to any country”.

Both sides agreed to take strong measures for prevention of illegal border crossing and human trafficking, and to aid victims of human trafficking and facilitate their early rescue and rehabilitation, according to the joint record of discussions.

Other issues discussed at the meeting included counterfeit currency racketeering, smuggling of phensedyl syrup and other psychotropic substances into Bangladesh, development work along the borders, and improvement of mutual relations through confidence-building measures

Both sides agreed for expeditious implementation of the decisions taken in the conference, and decided that the next DG-level conference would be held in Dhaka in March/April next year.