12:00 AM, September 11, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:10 AM, September 11, 2018

'Will apply as much strength as needed during nat'l polls'

Says BGB chief

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on September 10, 2018 denies seeking personal gains from their Indian counterpart Border Security Force (BSF) during a joint meeting held earlier this month. Photo: Star/ Muntakim Saad

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) will apply as much strength as possible during the upcoming national election to maintain law and order across the country and they have also taken extra initiative to tackle arms smuggling ahead of the polls, the director general of BGB said yesterday.

“We will put the training programmes on hold during the national election. No officials will be allowed to take leave except for emergencies, and all other workloads will be minimised,” Maj Gen Shafeenul Islam, the BGB director general, told a press conference at the BGB headquarters.

The BGB chief said they have also sought cooperation from India and Myanmar to protect the border during the upcoming national election, as many BGB members will be on poll-duty.

“We have already made plans regarding these matters,” he said, adding that BGB will abide by the instructions of the government about the election-specific matters.

Asked about the unguarded areas of the border with India and arms smuggling, the BGB official said they have taken extra efforts to tackle arms smuggling three months ago.

“In line with our efforts, we have also recovered 53 firearms between January and September 9,” he added.

This was the BGB chief's first press briefing after the BGB-BSF conference in India (September 3-8).

A 14-member delegation led by the BGB DG and 20-member BSF team led by its Director General KK Sharma participated in the Bangladesh-India border talks.

The BGB chief also briefed the media about the outcome of the DG-level conference in New Delhi.

During the conference, “fruitful discussions” on border killings, trans-border crimes, smuggling of drugs, arrest or apprehension of Bangladeshis by BSF, expansion of crime-free zones, and other important issues were held, the DG said.

He claimed that this year only one Bangladeshi died on the Bangladesh-India border, hoping to bring the number down to zero.

“In 2001, the number of border killing was 71, in 2010 it was 60, in 2015 it was 45, the next year it came down to 31, in 2017 it was 22, and this year (till now) the number is only 1,” the DG informed.

Asked about allegations of BGB men being involved in crimes, he said that no BGB member will go unpunished if they are involved in crimes on or off duty.

'MEDIA REPORT UTTERLY BASELESS'

BGB denied seeking personal gains from their Indian counterpart during the joint meeting in Delhi.

BBC Bangla reported that BGB had an agenda -- higher education in India for their children and India trips for their wives -- during the meeting.

The BGB DG trashed the report and said it was “utterly baseless” when reporters inquired about it at the press briefing yesterday.

“The agenda of our meeting, which the two countries decided jointly, was summed up in a Joint Record of Discussions,” he added.

However, a September 2 press release from BSF, obtained from their website, states that an agenda of BGB was “Confidence building measures” which included “Higher Studies in India for BGB wards”, “Inter-Shooting Competition”, “Visit of BWWA/SHIPKS delegation”, and “Visit of School Children”.

From the BSF side, the agenda included prevention of attacks on BSF troopers, curbing trans-border crimes, action against Indian insurgent groups, border infrastructure, comprehensive border management plan, and confidence building measures.

The last press release, obtained from BSF website, on September 7, said, “Both BGB and BSF appreciated the efforts made to improve mutual relations through various agreed-upon confidence building measures.”