India and Bangladesh have taken a “major decision” to erect a new fence to secure over 250 villages ahead of the present barbed-wire fence along the International Border (IB) to curb cross-border crimes and instill a sense of security among the people living in the area.
The decision was taken at the bi-annual Director General-level talks between the BSF and its counterpart Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) which concluded here today.
“We have taken a major decision to erect a single-row fence for villages that are ahead of the present fencing but behind the IB. This well help in curbing cross-border crimes, smuggling instances and will instill a sense of security in the border population. The Bangladesh government and the BGB have given us the permission to do so,” BSF chief KK Sharma said after signing the joint record of discussions with BGB DG Major General Aziz Ahmed.
He said the decision will affect 148 villages “fully” ahead of the IB fence and 137 “partially” ahead of it.
“Most of these villages are in West Bengal, while a few are in other Indian states sharing the border with Bangladesh. As the population lives and works here, the fence will have gates for people to cross over to the other side and come back,” Sharma said.
The BGB DG said the situation in these villages is “very challenging” and the forces do not want them get divided by a fence which will affect the lives of the residents.
“We will ensure that there are no objections from our side when the fence is erected. We need a humanitarian approach and it (the new fence) could be done as the present positive relation between India and Bangladesh is an example that is nowhere to be seen in the world,” he said.
Both the DGs said regular issues between the two forces such as cattle-smuggling and circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICNs) were discussed by the two sides.
“The FICN menace has seen some reduction but much more needs to be done to bring this criminal activity further down,” Sharma said.
Maj. Gen. Ahmed said both the sides were sharing “a lot of information”, adding that his country had been cooperating with the BSF in curbing cattle-smuggling from India to Bangladesh.
“We also want it to be stopped…We do not want Indian cattle in Bangladesh. Our government has launched a project of domestic cattle-farming to meet our requirements,” he said.
He claimed that most of the instances of killing of Bangladeshi citizens by the BSF personnel on the border were due to cattle-smuggling, adding that they would want to bring down the number to zero.
Both the DGs said the talks were “cordial” and a number of issues were sorted out during the conference that began yesterday.
India shares a 4,096-km border with Bangladesh and this was the 43rd DG-level talks between the two sides. Since 1975, they used to be held annually but from 1993, they were made bi-annual.