Haroon Habib

DHAKA: India and Bangladesh agreed to strengthen efforts to curb cross-border terrorism and make effective the existing border management, at the Home Secretary-level talks that ended here on Sunday.

The two-day talks were held against the backdrop of increasing border incidents.

At last week’s Director General-level meeting here between the Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) the two forces worked out a plan to maintain peace on the border. They exchanged lists of criminals hiding in each other’s territory.

Indian Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta reportedly assured his counterpart Abdul Karim that New Delhi would take steps to reduce civilian killings on the frontier.

New Delhi and Dhaka also agreed to take action against militants and insurgent outfits, smuggling of arms, ammunition, explosives and fake currency and bring the culprits to justice. Bangladesh reportedly sought India’s cooperation in taking preventive measures against ‘anti-Bangladesh outfits’ based in India.

Mr. Gupta led a 14-member team while Mr. Karim headed an 18-member team.

The secretaries said they also agreed that the verification process of released prisoners of one country held in the prisons of the other should be expedited and modalities be worked out. Asked whether some ULFA leaders reportedly in Bangladesh jails would come under this process, they said it was not about individual cases. The aim was to set up a mechanism to expedite the process of repatriation of prisoners who had completed their jail terms.

On the Indian proposal for construction of fences within 150 yards of the international border, the Bangladesh side said the matter would be further examined, including through joint visits to vulnerable sections of the border by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and the BSF delegates.

The meeting, however, did not make any progress on demarcation of 6.5 km of unmarked border. The two sides agreed to convene a meeting of the Joint Boundary Working Group at an early date to discuss all outstanding boundary-related issues.

Both sides agreed that there was a strong need to identify the racketeers engaged in human trafficking, especially in women and children, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

They agreed to enhance cooperation between the Narcotics Control Departments and a meeting would be held in October in New Delhi.

Under another agreement, the two countries would enhance cooperation towards capacity building, including training of their law enforcement agencies.

The meeting ended on a note of satisfaction over the successful reactivation of the Joint Working Group at the level of joint secretaries and designation of nodal points to deal with the issues of security and human trafficking.

Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirmed their commitment not to allow their territory to be used for any activity inimical to each other’s interests. The secretaries signed a joint statement. The next meeting will be held in New Delhi.

MoU signed

Meanwhile the BSF, BDR have entered into an agreement on joint patrolling to curb trans-border terrorism, drug smuggling, trafficking in women and children and intrusion.