New Delhi, Jun 15 (PTI) Frontier guarding forces of India and Bangladesh Saturday decided to undertake joint efforts to reduce border killing incidents, as the BSF said it fires only when a situation turns "ugly" and lives of its troops are in danger.
The 48th bi-annual Director General-level talks between the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) concluded in Dhaka and it was mutually decided to enhance cooperation to better check crime and smuggling of cattle and narcotics across the 4,096 km frontier shared by the neighbours, a senior BSF officer said.
BSF chief Rajni Kant Mishra told the other side that an Indian soldier was killed while 39 were "grievously" injured in attacks by miscreants and criminals at this border in the last few months.
Bangladesh, in the meeting, reiterated its concern over killing of its people on the border by the BSF, while the Indian force maintained that its aim is to stop crime and avoid casualty as far as possible.
"Both sides agreed to undertake joint efforts to bring down the killing incidents to zero by increasing coordinated patrols in areas vulnerable to cattle and narcotics smuggling, educating border population about the sanctity of the international border and preventing criminals from crossing over," the officer said.
He said the BSF DG asserted that "we use the policy of non-lethal weapon on the borders out of our concern for human rights in general and particularly the lives of Bangladeshi nationals".
"BSF troops use firearms in rarest situations, when they are cornered by miscreants threatening their very lives," Mishra told the BGB.
The Border Guard Bangladesh side was led by their DG, Maj Gen Shafeenul Islam.
BSF DG also informed the counterparts that the Indian side has trained its forces to maintain maximum restraint.
"But sometimes the situation turns so ugly that our men are attacked with stones, sticks and sharp weapons.
"Preventing these crimes, one BSF trooper lost his life and 39 were grievously injured in last few months," the officer said quoting the BSF DG.
Mishra said firing is resorted to only when, in large numbers, miscreants threaten BSF troops with sharp-edged weapons, dah, stones and other sharp objects.
All miscreants died in such firing on the Indian side of the border, the BSF DG told the meeting.
"Instructions are reiterated to keep utmost restraint in maintaining the sanctity of the international border," he said.
Mishra also sought "further cooperation from BGB for destruction of reported hideouts of Indian insurgent groups in Bangladesh".
"Both sides agreed to take effective steps for preventing smuggling of arms, ammunition, explosives, drugs, gold and fake Indian currency notes across the border," the BSF officer said quoting the joint record of discussions that began on June 12 at the BGB headquarters in Pilkhana in Dhaka.
It was also decided to enhance the concept of "crime free zones" along the India-Bangladesh border like the one operational in West Bengal and a new such location would be in Tripura, the officer said.
The BSF and BGB jointly patrol crime free zones to ensure the area remains safe.
It was decided to hold the next such meeting in India in November this year, the officer added.