Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Killings, Border Crimes : Dhaka to ask Delhi to step up joint patrol

Bangladesh will ask India to strengthen joint patrols on the border to check crimes and killings of Bangladeshi nationals by India's Border Security Force, said a high official at the home ministry. 

Dhaka will seek explanations from New Delhi on the recent killings of Bangladeshis by the BSF. 

Bangladesh has pinpointed more than 350 smuggling-prone spots on the Bangladesh-India border with India's help. Most killings on the border happen in such areas, and unarmed people often fall victim to BSF firing.

More joint patrols would be arranged under the Combined Border Management Plan the two countries had signed on July 30 last year, said Kamal Uddin Ahmed, additional secretary to the home ministry.

“Now joint patrol is carried out at 117 points on the Bangladesh-India border. At least 981 joint patrols have been conducted at those points since August last year. It proved very effective in reducing border killings and smuggling at those points.”

Border Guard Bangladesh and BSF exchange information and fix the time and spot for conducting joint patrols, mostly at night. Both the security forces patrol the border simultaneously, Kamal said.

The secretary said the issue of conducting joint patrols at 350 more points would be raised today at the three-day talks between the home ministers of the two countries. 

Home Minister Shahara Khatun, who will lead a 12-member delegation, leaves for New Delhi this morning to hold talks with her Indian counterpart P Chidambaram.

Bangladesh would ask India to fulfil its pledge to use rubber bullets instead of lethal ones on the border to check the killings of Bangladeshi nationals, he said.

The government has information that new phensidyl factories have been set up on the Indian side targeting addicts in Bangladesh, though India has repeatedly assured Bangladesh that such factories will be removed from bordering areas, said a source at the home ministry.

Bangladesh has prepared a list of such factories and will hand it over to the Indian authorities during the talks. The two countries will also exchange lists of criminals.

The two sides will review the progress of “Transfer of Sentenced Persons” treaty that was signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India in 2010.

Under the terms of the agreement, Indian nationals serving jail terms in Bangladesh prisons will be allowed to complete the remaining terms in Indian prisons if they so wish.

The same option will be available to Bangladeshi nationals serving jail terms in Indian prisons, said the source.

Kamal said the jail authorities had prepared a list of Indian prisoners who wished to leave Bangladesh in line with the treaty. The Indian authorities have also prepared a similar list. The lists would be exchanged during the talks, Kamal said.

Bangladesh will urge India to simplify the visa process for Bangladeshi nationals and stop asking for unnecessary documents from visa seekers, he said.

The Bangladesh delegation will raise the issue of ratifying the protocol concerning un-demarcated land boundary, enclaves and adversely-possessed land. The protocol was signed during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh. 

It will also seek explanations from India for the BSF chief's remark on February 8 that it would not be possible to put a total stop to firing along the border as his troops must take steps to stop the offenders, said another source at the home ministry. 

The BSF chief's comment came after BSF brutalities on Bangladeshi nationals were shown on Indian TV channels. 

The issue of the repatriation of two killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would also be raised during the talks, said the source.