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BSF: Not border killings, just unfortunate deaths

  • Published at 12:21 pm June 15th, 2019
48th director general level border conference between BGB and India's BSF Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

BGB has expressed grave concern about the increasing border killings

Border Security Force (BSF) Director General (DG) Rajni Kant Mishra has termed border killings "unfortunate  deaths," while Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) expressed concern about the increasing number of deaths.

"We are also gravely concerned about the deaths on the borders," Mishra said. "However, they cannot be called border killings; they are unfortunate  deaths."

He made the statement at a press briefing organized at the end of the 48th director general (DG) level border conference between BGB and India's Border Security Force (BSF) from June 12-15, at BGB's Pilkhana headquarters, on Saturday.

However, the BSF chief admitted the number of deaths at the Bangladesh-India border has gone 'slightly' up in recent times, and assured Bangladeshi authorities that these incidents will be investigated. 

Meanwhile, BGB DG, Maj Gen Shafeenul Islam, said: "Bangladesh is extremely concerned about the increasing number of deaths of Bangladeshi nationals in the border areas." 

However, unwilling to call them border killings, Mishra said: "We have trained our men to maintain the utmost restraint when handling such situations but  unfortunately, sometimes we are attacked with stones, sticks, and sharp weapons when smugglers try to cross the border. 

"They even use firearms. Even then, we use non-lethal weapons and only when there is no alternative, in order to save our own lives, on the rarest of occasions, we use lethal force." 

The BSF director general said Bangladeshi nationals are not the only ones to lose their lives. He said a total of seven individuals were killed on Indian soil, one of them being a Bangladeshi and the rest Indians, and one BSF man died and 39 others were injured in border confrontations last year.

"In each of these incidents, we filed a case with the concerned police stations and investigated. We are working our best to reduce the number of these deaths to zero," he said.

“I  have also requested BGB to work jointly with us to identify vulnerable places in the border areas and conduct simultaneous coordinated patrolling to tackle and stop such situations from happening again," added the BSF DG.

When asked whether the source of illegally smuggled drug yaba could be in India, Sharma said his country has no part to play in its production. 

"A third country must be supplying them," he said. "We are constantly monitoring these issues."

Praising BGB's role against groups of Indian insurgents, the BSF director general sought BGB's cooperation in uprooting any Indian insurgent groups that might be sheltering inside Bangladesh.

BGB's DG said Bangladesh has never harboured any criminal groups or enemies of other states on its territory. "Our government has a zero-tolerance policy. We will provide all cooperation to BSF in this regard." 

After the meeting, replying to a question regarding the news published in the India media that there might have been militant attacks near the India-Bangladesh border before India's national election, BGB DG Maj Gen Shafeenul Islam said: "BGB is working relentlessly to prevent illegal activities surrounding the border areas. 

"There are some issues regarding surveillance. We could not discuss this topic during the meeting."

In the meeting, both sides agreed to undertake joint efforts to bring down border killings to zero and to take effective steps to prevent the smuggling of arms, ammunition, explosives, drugs, gold, and fake currencies across the Bangladesh-India border. 

Both sides also agreed to pursue and share real time information, including the preliminary questioning report of individuals apprehended  with smuggled items. 

A 19-member host team, led by the BGB DG, participated in the conference which was attended by a 10-member Indian delegation, led by the BSF DG.