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Mon, 30 Mar 2020

Northeast Today

Steel fence project to stop cross-border killings along Bangla border ‘rusting': Officials

Steel fence project to stop cross-border killings along Bangla border ‘rusting': Officials
February 17
10:14 2020

NET Bureau

A strategic project to erect an anti-cut ‘steel fence’ along the Indo-Bangladesh border to bring down cross-border crimes and killings is hanging fire as the frontier force of that country is yet to give its nod, officials in the security establishment said.

The single-row fence, with loops of concertina wires on top, is to be erected by India

on vulnerable and infiltration-prone stretches along both its eastern (Bangladesh) and western (Pakistan) fronts.

While the modern fence will essentially help to curb infiltration of terrorists and smuggling of arms and contraband from across the Pakistan border, along the Bangladesh front it will also help to resolve a major issue of border killings of nationals of both sides as human movement here is not fully restricted, a senior Home Ministry official said.

The fence, which costs Rs 2 crore per kilometre, is anti-cut, anti-climb and anti-rust and hence will not allow criminals from either side to carry out their activities.

When the Border Security Force (BSF) stops these crimes along the eastern front, they are attacked upon resulting in deaths or injuries on both the sides, the official said.

Official figures state while 107 Indian smugglers or criminals have been killed in violent conflicts with the BSF at this border between 2010-19, 135 Bangladeshi nationals indulging in crime were killed during the same time period.

About 18 Bangladeshis have been killed in such instances this year.

Eleven BSF troops have also been killed and 960 injured while thwarting these attempts (2010-19) in more than 1,890 incidents.

“The BSF has made it amply clear to its counterpart BGB or Border Guards Bangladesh that our mandate is to ensure the sanctity of the border and criminals have no nationality. The BGB also agrees to this.”

“If nationality of those who get killed or injured in violent confrontations is at all to be considered, there are considerable number of deaths of Indian nationals too,” Shubhendu Bhardwaj, BSF spokesperson at its headquarters in Delhi told PTI.
He added that keeping these challenges of border crimes in mind, the BSF has proposed erecting a new anti-cut fence in vulnerable patches of the border few years back but a final nod by the BGB is still awaited.

A’pilot project’ of this new fence is also being run at a 7 km stretch in Assam’s Silchar along this border.

However, the Home Ministry official said any concrete work on the international border can only be done after the other side is on board.

At the Bangladesh border the aim is to cover about 96 km, out of the total 4,096 km frontier, with the new fence to start with, the official said.

The new fence has been designed keeping in mind the challenge of Bangladeshi criminals cutting the existing one for illegal activities like human trafficking and smuggling.

When these crimes are stopped by BSF troops, the criminals attack them with stones, sticks, sharp-edged weapons and sometimes with crude bombs.

The Union government had directed the BSF to adopt the strategy of using non-lethal weapons in 2011 to bring down border killing incidents but the move is now being seen as counter-productive by security officials.

“The criminals have been emboldened to attack a BSF patrol or troops as they know that the personnel will first use non-lethal weapons to disperse them and will use lethal weapons or regular rifles only when there is a very serious threat to their life,” the official said.

Source: Business Standard

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