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Deaths on Indo-Bangla border due to anti-crime operations: Officials

The recent spike in killings on the India-Bangladesh border is fuelled by the confrontation between a number of local crime syndicates that are targeting the border guards of both countries, informed official sources said here on Saturday.

The official response came days after a human rights group in Bangladesh published a report saying that at least 25 Bangladeshi citizens had died in the last six months because of firing by the Border Security Force.

“In recent months Indian and Bangladesh forces have maintained close coordination regarding security of the international border. The high casualty is because of attacks on Indian forces from criminal groups in Indian territory who are under pressure because India and Bangladesh are jointly targeting them,” said an official explaining the current state of the law and order situation along the 4,196 km long border.

The official said both sides are carrying out fencing work in particularly crime prone parts of the border.

The border was demarcated through the Land Boundary Agreement of 2015 which is considered a major diplomatic achievement of the governments of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bangladesh leader Sheikh Hasina.

One of the major problems of the border during the pre-2015 years was the regular casualties because of police action against alleged smugglers and petty criminals which also included the controversial 2011 Felani Khatoon case when Khatoon, a teenager was shot dead allegedly by a BSF official. Recent reports by the human rights group Odhikar, however, have said the border killings have continued despite the settled nature of the India-Bangladesh border.

According to its latest report published in June, Odhikar has recorded at least 25 deaths in Bangladesh because of firing by the BSF. The Indian official consulted for the story also reminded that there were Indian casualties too in the recent past.

Odhikar’s report mentions at least 45 cases where citizens of Bangladesh were killed or injured. At least three were abducted, alleges the organisation. The group also holds BSF responsible for the death of a teenager inside Bangladesh territory in recent months.

The report shows killings were highest in January when 13 individuals died in BSF firing. The second highest was in June with six deaths. There is a higher instance of border killings before festivals in Bangladesh which sees an increase in supply of animals from India to Bangladesh. The Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered for strict action against those found to be indulging in cattle smuggling ahead of Eid later this month, when demand for sacrificial cattle is expected rise across the border.

Odhikar says that most of such killings are because of the controversial “shoot at sight” policy followed by the Indian forces. The latest killing took place on Saturday in Indo-Bangla border of Sylhet when Indian locals allegedly fired upon intruders in an agriculture field killing one person on the spot.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 5:14:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/deaths-on-indo-bangla-border-due-to-anti-crime-operations-officials/article32054833.ece

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