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Border killings increase this year, says foreign minister

  • Published at 07:06 am February 2nd, 2020
web BSF Border
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel keep a vigil near India-Bangladesh fencing border during a patrol ahead of India's 70th Republic Day celebration at Lankamura village, on the outskirts of Agartala, the capital of northeastern state of Tripura on January 24, 2019 AFP

Indian envoy summoned multiple times recently over the issue

The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry recently summoned the Indian envoy more than once to register protest against the killing of Bangladeshi civilians by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) along the border.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said yesterday that the Indian high commissioner was told that the incidents of border killings are disgraceful for both the governments.

"The envoy also agreed that the killings are unacceptable," Momen told a press conference at the ministry organised over the prime minister’s upcoming Italy visit from February 4 to 7.

"We have remained very alert about border killings. Whenever these killings are reported, we call the Indian high commissioner and register our protest as to why these incidents were occurring. The border killing incidents, in particular, have increased manifold in this year," said the foreign minister. 

"This is very regrettable. The Indian government promised us that not a single Bangladeshi would be killed. Moreover, we entered into an agreement that no lethal weapons will be used along the border area. In spite of all negotiations and undertakings border killing are continuing," he said. 

"They raise different arguments. One of the arguments is that those who come anew to manage the border area, do not have the necessary skills and training. On many occasions, our people go into India's territory and Indians say that we did not kill along the border. They (Bangladeshis) trespassed inside India. They highlight these kinds of excuses," said Dr Momen.

"The other day, we called the Indian high commissioner and told her that this was very shameful for both of us. The bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and India is very good, therefore, these incidents (killings of Bangladeshis) should never happen. We don’t want a single killing along the border," he reiterated. 

Recently, a high-level conference was held between the chiefs of Border Guard Bangladesh and the Indian BSF where the officials from Bangladesh raised the issue rather ‘forcefully’, the minister said. 

"So, we are very concerned and watchful about the matter, as much as you are," he said.

Dr Momen also said: “I have to tell you that we don’t speak to newspaper time and again to take credit over our diplomatic overtures with Indian government, rather we want a solution, an amicable solution so that not a single person is killed along the border."

When asked how many times the Indian high commissioner was summoned in this year, he, without being specific over the number, said: "In the current year...When we saw the news of five Bangladeshis (killed along border) we called her...Then two (Bangladeshis) were killed. We called her and said this is not acceptable. She also agreed that it is not acceptable. She said that she would inform her government so that it stops.” 

Replying to another question, the foreign minister said that whenever the ministry gets the news of any such incidents, “we bring them to the notice of the Indian government.”

The foreign minister also said: "Perhaps it should also be noted that some of our own people, out of greed or for a little money, get killed after entering India. On many occasions, they bring certain things from India. If Indians get possession of those goods along the border, accidents do not take place. In a bid to save some money, they go inside India to bring those things which eventually creates problems."

"I will urge my fellow countrymen not to put their lives in harm's way out of greed for some money," he said, putting emphasis on self-restraints for Bangladeshis. 

"We will remain inside our border and they [Indians] will be inside their border. We will not provoke them unnecessarily. Let me tell you a little more. Sometimes, the gang members open fire at the Indian soldiers," Dr Momen said. 

The Indians have claimed that, in a number of instances, they were attacked by the Bangladeshis — leaving them [Indians] with no choice but to shoot back, he said.

"People of our country are in general careful, but they at times get misguided in this regard,” he added.

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