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8 May, 2017 00:00 00 AM
Indo-Bangla ties

Zero killing of Bangladeshis along border remains elusive


Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India both reiterated that the number of deaths at the border must be brought down to zero and directed the concerned authorities to work towards that end, according to the 20th of the 62-point point joint declaration issued after the one-to-one and delegation-level meetings between Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi on April 8 in New Delhi. “The two Prime Ministers shared the view that effective implementation of the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) would enable better border management to jointly manage the identified vulnerable areas, irregular movement, incidents of violence and tragic loss of lives and ensure a border free of criminal activities,” it said.
But, the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) killed two more Bangladeshis along the border in the same month merely two weeks after the return of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the country on April 10.
The BSF shot dead a Bangladeshi on the night of April 23 along Gilabari border in Bholahat upazila of Chapainawabganj. The deceased was identified as 28-year-old Saidul Islam, media reports say.
According to witnesses, the BSF personnel opened fire on some cattle traders when they were trying to enter India through Gilabari border.
Another Bangladesh national, Abdus Samad, 30, was seriously injured on that day and later succumbed to the injury at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital on April 29, reported a national daily.
As usual, the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) protested the killing of Bangladeshis.
When contacted for comments on the killings of Bangladeshis soon after the directives given by the two Heads of the government, officials of foreign and home ministry told The Independent that certainly there is a gap of communication between the Indian hierarchies and the BSF personnel operating on the ground.
“Either there is a gap because of which the instructions of the Indian policy makers are not travelling down to the level of jawans or BSF personnel are not obeying the instruction of the political leadership not to use lethal weapons along the border,” a senior official said.
“It is difficult to believe that either of the two notions is possible,” he said, adding that Bangladesh will continue to push for bringing down the killing of our people to zero,” he said.
The Indian side has been urged to make every effort and to adopt mechanisms to stop such deaths, said the officials.
The Indian side informed that the BSF had been instructed to exercise restraint in opening fire, they added.
The officials appeared to have admitted the reality that most of the killings take place inside India and at night and said that Dhaka has no problem if the trespassers are brought to justice.
“But, the killing of people with lethal weapons cannot be justified under any circumstances,” said another official.
The official, who was part of the Prime Minister’s delegation to New Delhi, said, “We have raised the issue with the
Indians with due importance and they also pointed out to the timing and places of deaths.”
“We told them that the cows that appear to be at the centre of the issue come from Indian states like Hariyana and Rajasthan which are far from Bangladesh-India border. How do these cows come so far? We asked them to stop that. And, we will continue doing our bit on our side of the border,” he said.
The officials described the ‘illegal cattle economy along the border as ‘huge’, saying that there is a ‘well-founded perception’ that some personnel of both the border forces along with others facilitate cattle smuggling.
Despite repeated attempts, BGB Director General Major General Abul Hossain could not be reached for any comment in this regard.
“Given the reality on the ground and despite our best efforts, it seems that the prospect of zero killing will remain elusive. And, it is imperative to bring the killing to zero for a better Bangladesh-India relationship,” said a frustrated senior official.
According to statistics available from different government sources, since the independence the BSF and Indian nationals have, till the end of January this year, killed a total of 1,391 Bangladeshi civilians and BGB personnel along the border. During this period, a total of 1,206 Bangladeshi civilians and 22 BGB personnel were also injured by BSF and Indian nationals.
On the other hand, in 4 decades and a half, BGB also killed over three dozens of Indian nationals and BSF personnel of which 16 BSF men were killed in 1999. Less than 50 Indian civilians and BSF men were injured by Bangladeshis during this period. The position of Bangladesh regarding killing of its nationals along the border is that it is a matter of serious concern. Joint India-Bangladesh Guidelines for Border Authorities 1975 states that illegal border trespass should be dealt with preferably without resorting to fire.
The BSF was requested to exercise maximum restraint and in the event of compulsive situation to open blank fire or fire at the lower portion of the body. In various meetings, both sides agreed that killing of unarmed persons is unacceptable and inhuman and emphasised that the legal systems prevalent in both the countries do not permit these killings either. It was underscored that despite the excellent relations with India, this issue remained as a source of irritation among the public in the country and a source of embarrassment for the Bangladesh government.
The Bangladesh side made it known to the Indians that because of its sensitive nature, even a single incident was enough to damage months of painstaking progress in other areas.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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