The Border Security Force (BSF) displayed weapons and put on a demonstration on the use of non-lethal weapons at its Raninagar sector office in Jalpaiguri today. As the border guarding force put up the display for the 14-member Indian media delegation, which toured the North-West region of Bangladesh from 14 July and returned home yesterday evening, BSF officials said they aimed to check border crime and put in place a better border management system.

This also followed the delegation’s first-hand experience of the border management measures that are in place on the other side of the fence controlled by the Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB).

BSF’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) from Delhi, Shubhendu Bharadwaj, led the media team in the third visit to the neighbouring country.

A decision to conduct reciprocal visits of media personnel from both the countries was taken at the 42nd DG (Director General)-level conference between the BSF and the BGB with effect from 11 to 16 May 2016.

The aim of the visit was to showcase the border management strategised by both the border guarding forces under confidence measures. Significantly, though the BSF has started using different types of non-lethal weapons and reduced the rate of border killings, the BGB still blames the BSF for such killings and claims that the trend is on the rise. Notably, the Indian government had taken the decision to use nonlethal weapons for border management as Bangladesh allegedly branded the BSF as ‘trigger happy’ when it came to checking crime along the border.

Interestingly, the chief of the BGB, North West Regional Headquarters in Rangpur, Brigadier General Jalal, during interaction with the Indian media team, blamed the BSF for the border killings and claimed that the rate was on the rise. In a Powerpoint presentation, the BGB claimed that 16 people were killed in 2014; 26 in 2015; 17 in 2016; 10 in 2017; 6 in 2018, and 15 in 2019 (up to July).

On the other hand, the Inspector General of the BSF, North Bengal Frontier, Headquarters, Ajmal Singh Kathat, brushed aside the BGB’s allegations during an interaction with the Indian media delegation yesterday evening.

The BSF claimed that 32 Bangladeshis were killed in 2010; while significantly, the number was 11, 11, 09 and 07 between 2011 and 2014, respectively. In 2014, the number went up and 22 Bangladeshi nationals were killed along the entire Indo-Bangladesh border in 2015, while the number was 16 and 14 in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Interestingly, only one death was recorded in 2018 and only 7 in 2019 till June.

According to the BSF, the number of deaths of Indian people along the IndoBangladesh border was 23 in 2010. Similarly, the number of deaths of Indians was 11 and the number of Bangladeshis killed was 22 in 2015.

BSF officials, including the DIG Jalpaiguri, Mohinder Kumar, put on a demonstration on munitions like the Stun grenade, Chili grenade and dye marker. BSF authorities also displayed lethal weapons, including those used in selfdefense by BSF personnel.