Zero Border Killings: A promise tangled up in barbed wire
In talks between India's Border Security Force and Border Guard Bangladesh, the BSF chief yet again promised that there would be no killings on the borders.
The five-day director general-level talks will officially end today.
On Tuesday, the first day of the conference, BSF men shot dead Bangladeshi citizen Khairul Islam, 40, along the border in Mymensingh.
At least 48 Bangladeshi citizens have been killed along the Indo-Bangla border this year, according to Rights Body Ain o Salish Kendra.
At least 15 people were killed in 2018 while the number rose to 43 last year, it said.
Just two months ago, at the 50th DG-level conference, BSF DG Rakesh Asthana promised to bring down the border killings to zero.
According to ASK, around 33 Bangladeshis were killed in the first eight months of the year.
At the latest 51st conference, both sides agreed to conduct joint patrols at night in key areas in order to prevent border killings, reads a joint statement issued yesterday.
During the conference, BGB Director General Maj Gen Md Shafeenul Islam expressed "grave concern" over the killings and beating up of unarmed Bangladeshi nationals by BSF men as well as indian civilians near the borders.
"The people of Bangladesh always appreciate the existing excellent relationship between the two border guarding forces and expect that BGB and BSF will take necessary measures to bring down the deaths to zero," the BGB chief said, according to the joint statement.
Maj Gen Shafeenul further urged his counterpart to uphold human rights and make efforts to apprehend the criminals and bring them to book instead of killing them.
The BSF chief then assured that deaths on the border will be reduced significantly in near future, reads the statement.
Both sides also agreed to take precautionary measures along the border by increasing coordinated patrols, intensifying public awareness programmes, undertaking appropriate socio-economic development programmes in vulnerable areas and sharing real time information.
BGB chief Maj Gen Shafeenul led the 11-member Bangladeshi delegation in the 51st DG-level conference in Guwahati in Indian state of Assam. BSF DG Rakesh led a 12-member delegation.
The BGB chief also expressed concern that Indian nationals and BSF personnel were often trespassing into Bangladesh, violating the existing norms or rules.
He sought BSf's cooperation in upholding the friendly relationship of both the border guarding forces.
The joint statement read that both sides agreed to continue to sensitise the border populace to refrain from illegal crossing or violations and at the same time assured maintenance of the sanctity of the border by the members of both forces.
The BGB chief also voiced his concern that armed miscreants of regional parties of Chattogram Hill Tracts had camps in the Indian state of Mizoram and requested BSF to destroy those camps.
The BSF chief assured that, if found, appropriate actions will be taken against those camps.
The BGB chief also expressed concerns over trafficking of drugs, fire arms, contraband items, cattle and gold across the border.
The BSF officials said drug trafficking and drug addiction on both sides is a real danger that needs to be tackled effectively.
Both sides agreed not to undertake any development work within 150 yards of the international border without prior information. They also agreed to hold the next DG level conference in Dhaka, preferably by the 2nd week of April 2021.