NRC an internal affair of Indian government: Border Guards Bangladesh DG

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The creation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is completely an “internal affair” of India and the cooperation between the border guarding forces of the two countries is very good, the visiting chief of Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) said here on Sunday.

Director General (DG) Maj. Gen. Shafeenul Islam told reporters during a press conference that the BGB will continue to do its work of preventing illegal border crossings as per its mandate.

A BGB delegation, led by Islam, is on a bilateral visit to India to hold DG-level border talks with its counterparts, the Border Security Force (BSF).

The talks took place from December 26-29, during which a host of issues related to cross-border smuggling and activities of criminals and others along the 4,096-km-long front were discussed, a senior BSF officer said.

“This is completely an internal affair of the Indian government,” the BGB DG said when asked to comment on the NRC issue.

Asked about the provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that seeks to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from three neighbouring countries including Bangladesh, Islam said he would not like to make any comments.

“I would say the cooperation and relationship between the two forces (BSF and BGB) are very good. Beyond that I cannot say anything…,” he said when asked to comment on the developments in India after the passing of the CAA in Parliament.

The BGB chief said they caught over 300 Bangladeshi nationals this year at the border while they were coming in from India.

These were people who had gone to India as they had cultural and family ties or some work on the other side and were apprehended as they did not have proper documents, the BGB chief said.

He refuted reports that a number of Bangladeshi citizens were being “pushed back” from the Indian side.

BSF DG V K Johri said these were “genuine Bangladeshi nationals but may be without documents”.

He added that the incidents of attacks by criminals on BSF personnel at the Indo-Bangla border had gone down to about 82 (till now in 2019) from about “350 plus” in 2015-16.

In the last three years, such incidents numbered in the range of 70s, Johri said.

“It is due to the efforts of both these forces that these incidents have gone down…but yes, this issue is still there,” the BSF DG said.

Replying to a question on the recent killing of a BSF jawan by a BGB trooper along the India-Bangladesh International Border in West Bengal, the BGB DG said it was an “unexpected and unwarranted” incident.

“An inquiry is still on…we have taken necessary steps to normalise the situation,” he said.

Johri said the incident was “unfortunate and unwarranted” and “there are lessons to be learnt.”

“We are preparing a detailed standard operating procedure in the wake of this incident that took place on the riverine border along Bangladesh,” he said.

The BSF DG added that the fencing all along the border was “being improved” and technical specifications were being finalised for the erection of a “single-row fence” in certain areas.

The two sides also signed a joint record of discussions at the end of the meeting.

According to a BSF statement, the two sides agreed on a host of issues.

“For injuries or loss of life of BSF personnel on borders while preventing criminal activities, both forces agreed to make all possible efforts to curb the menace of cattle smuggling or any other criminal activity and to ensure tranquillity on the borders.

“On the concern of the BGB regarding the death of Bangladeshi nationals on borders, it was informed to them that a non-lethal weapon policy is strictly followed by BSF personnel on borders.

“Firing is resorted to only in self-defence, when BSF patrols are gheraoed and attacked by ‘dah’ (a sharp-edged weapon) etc. It was specified that the BSF does not discriminate between criminals based on nationality,” the statement said.

These meetings are held bi-annually and the last time the BSF and the BGB met was in Dhaka in June.
The next edition of the talks will be held in Bangladesh.

Source – defencenews.in