POST TIME: 9 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
BGB, BSF to jointly patrol ‘crime free zone’ at border
Deepak Acharjee

BGB, BSF to jointly patrol ‘crime free zone’ at border

For the first time, Bangladesh and India are going to declare an 8.3-km area along the border as “crime-free zone” today to stop cross border terrorism and smuggling. The areas to be covered under the zone will include Putkhali and Daulatpur in south-western Bangladesh and Gunarmath and Kalyani in India’s West Bengal, sources in the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) headquarters and home ministry said.

These areas were previously known as safe havens for smugglers. BGB director general Maj. Gen. Abul Hosain and his BSF counterpart, KK Sharma, will declare the first “crime-free zone” along the border at a function at the Kalyani border outpost in West Bengal.

Local representatives from both countries, such as members of Parliament (MPs) from the respective areas and district and police administrators, will be present at the function. BGB commanding officer (Khulna) Lt Col Tarique told The Independent that members of BGB and India’s BSF will jointly patrol the 8.3- km stretch round the clock. “Already, two border liaison posts (BLP)—one in Bangladesh and the other in India—have been set up by the respective paramilitary forces of the two countries near the zero line to keep close vigil on border activities,” he said.

“We'll share information and communication systems with each other and conduct joint operations to curb crime in border areas,” he added.

The BGB commanding officer said that criminals found it easy to smuggle arms, ammunition and gold through the porous border as there were no barbed wire fences. He also that the decision to demarcate the “crime-free zone” was taken at the DG-level talks between BGB and BSF in October 2017. The two DGs agreed to launch a joint pilot project at the zero line to stop cross border terrorism and smuggling, which have been increasing rapidly ahead of the national polls in Bangladesh.

“Once the pilot project succeeds, similar crime-free zones would be created all along the border between the two countries,” Tarique added. Bangladesh and India share a 4,096-km-long border, the fifth-longest land border in the world, including 262 km in Assam, 856 km in Tripura, 180 km in Mizoram, 443 km in Meghalaya, and 2,217 km in West Bengal.

Sources said there were vulnerable border points in 33 border districts, including 10 coastal ones, of Bangladesh. More than 50 categories of Bangladeshi goods are being smuggled daily to India through these points.