Friday, February 24, 2012

Efforts on to bring down BSF firing to zero, Delhi assures Dhaka

India on Friday assured Bangladesh that efforts are on to bring down the incidents of BSF firing along the border to zero level. 

New Delhi also assured Dhaka that the issue of proposed treaty on sharing of waters of Teesta river would be resolved.

Home Minister Shahara Khatun received the assurances while she separately met with her Indian counterpart P Chidambaram and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

"We are trying to resolve the Teesta issue," Shahara quoted Manmohan as saying when she called on him at his official residence.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's foreign affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi who was also present added that the Indian premier conveyed that "some progress has been made towards solving the Teesta issue and more works need to be done".

The Teesta treaty could not be signed during Singh's visit to Dhaka in September last year following eleventh-hour objections from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. 

Shahara said she told Manmohan that "the people of Bangladesh want the Teesta issue be resolved soon". 

She said the Indian premier told her that the agreement on land boundary demarcation and exchange of enclaves, signed by the two countries during Singh's Dhaka visit, would be placed in the budget session of Indian Parliament, which begins next month, for ratification.

Earlier at a joint media interaction with her Indian counterpart P Chidambaram at the Taj Man Singh hotel after one-to-one and delegation-level talks, Khatun said she had raised the border firing and killing by BSF and India has assured that steps would be taken so that no killing or torture of Bangladeshis takes place in future.

"We have discussed how to avoid future border firings and killings of Bangladeshis," she said. 

Chidambaram said, "We have reiterated that we do not intend to continue border firings and killings and both sides identified 23 vulnerable border outposts where the two countries will strengthen the presence of border guards and resort to joint consultations".

"If we can do that, I'm sure there will be no more firing and the incidents of bordering firing and killing will be brought down to zero," he added.

The Indian home minister said, "There has been a dramatic decline" in border firing incidents in the last eight months since his visit to Dhaka in July last year. 

"Only three incidents have taken place – one in November and two in December last year in which four persons were killed who were a part of cattle smugglers," he said.

Chidambaram said he handed over a dossier to Shahara explaining the circumstances in which BSF had to resort to firing.

"In each case, one of our jawans on the border was grievously injured and his other colleagues fired to save him," he said. "We regret these incidents but there are cases in our view in which there was no option other than firing."

He said, "We don't want this to continue and in the last seven weeks, there has been no incident of firing."