Tension flared up along the Charghat frontier in Rajshahi yesterday morning when the Border Guard Bangladesh tried to stop hilsa catching by some Indian fishermen inside the Bangladeshi side of the Padma.
The Bangladesh border guards said they fired three shots in the air, but the Indian border Security Force claimed one of its jawans was killed and another injured when its members went to rescue an Indian fisherman caught by the BGB.
Later in the afternoon, the BGB and the BSF held a flag meeting, where both sides agreed to launch separate investigations into the incident.
BGB Rajshahi Battalion-1 Director Lt Col Ferdous Mahmud headed the Bangladeshi side while BSF commandant KS Mehta led the Indian team in the hour-long meeting held in Charghat.
Speaking at a press conference last night, Lt Col Ferdous said after the Indian fisherman was caught along with gill nets, four BSF members entered around 650 yards inside Bangladesh territory. One of the BSF members was in uniform while the others were wearing shorts and Genji (T-shirt). They were armed, he said.
A BGB patrol team from Charghat stopped the BSF members and said the fisherman would be handed over to the BSF authorities through a flag meeting, he said.
The BSF men then tried to take away the fisherman forcibly. At this, the BGB men told the BSF members that they too intruded into Bangladeshi territory and that they would also be handed over through a flag meeting.
Panicked, the BSF members started rushing back to the Indian side along with the fisherman. As the BGB personnel tried to obstruct them, they opened fire, forcing the BGB team to fire back in self-defence.
Later at a flag meeting between the two sides, the BGB came to know that one BSF jawan was killed and another was injured, the BGB official said.
He said the flag meeting was peaceful and that another meeting would be held in this regard.
Earlier in the day, Lt Col Ferdous said BSF men intruded into Bangladesh territory and attempted to snatch away an Indian fisherman whom the BGB members caught from Bangladeshi territory for catching egg-carrying hilsa.
Fisheries department officials, assisted by police, BGB and river police have been conducting drives on a regular basis in the Padma since Bangladesh imposed a 22-day ban on catching egg-carrying hilsa on October 9.
As part of their regular drive, a team of three officials of the fisheries department assisted by BGB members from Charghat BOP began patrolling the Padma along the border in Charghat yesterday morning, said Ariful Islam, the Charghat upazila fisheries officer.
During the patrol around 9:00am, the team found several fishermen were catching hilsa in the Bangladeshi portion of the river, said the BGB director.
The patrol team challenged the fishermen and caught one of them who was found to be an Indian national while the others managed to flee into India.
Two hours later, BSF members went to the scene in speedboats and challenged BGB members asking them to return the Indian national, said the BGB director.
“They tried to snatch the Indian fisherman,” he said.
He claimed that BGB fired at least three bullets in the airwhile the BSF men fired at least 15 bullets while leaving the scene.
In the last one week, Bangladeshi fishermen held meetings and have been complaining to the local authorities that Indian fishermen frequently intruded into Bangladeshi territory and catch hilsa even during the ban that will end on October 30.
WHAT BSF SAYS
In a statement, the BSF said three Indian fishermen were caught by Bangladeshi officers and two of them were released later.
“This morning, three Indian fishermen went fishing in the Padma river in the border area. Two fishermen returned and approached the Kakmarichar BSF post, saying that the Border Guard Bangladesh had apprehended them and later released two of them,” said the statement.
“Around 1030 hrs, the post commander and five troopers approached the BGB patrol in a BSF boat. During a flag meeting, the BGB patrol not only refused to release the Indian fisherman, but also tried to cordon the BSF troops. Sensing that the situation is worsening, the BSF party immediately returned. BGB troops opened fire on the returning BSF party,” it added.
Both BSF soldiers were evacuated to the nearest medical facility, where head constable Vijay Bhan Singh was declared dead on arrival. The injured soldier is being treated in a hospital, the statement said.
Vijay, 50, was a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad, the statement added.