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BSF campaign to stop illegal immigrants’ influx; 140 locations on radar

IANS | New Delhi |

In view of the increasing influx of illegal immigrants, especially Rohingyas, the BSF has identified 140 “vulnerable” locations on India-Bangladesh border and initiated a campaign to prevent their influx by curbing the activities of touts, the BSF chief said on Friday.

“We both (Border Security Force and Border Guards Bangladesh) are aware that the issue is very very serious as a large number of Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh and India. Both the forces discussed the issue and have taken steps to curb the menace,” BSF Director General K.K. Sharma said here.

He was addressing media persons at the end of a four-day bi-annual Directors General-level talks, which began on October 2, between a 26-member Indian team and a 24-member Bangladesh delegation led by BGB chief Major General Abul Hossain.

The BSF officer said his counterpart had assured of major steps to deal with the movement of Rohingya Muslims, who have fled Rakhine state in Myanmar after security forces’ action since August 25, by setting up roadblocks/checkpoints on various routes to ensure no one crossed into Indian territory illegally.

Sharma said BSF had identified “140 vulnerable border posts” along the 4,096.7-km India-Bangladesh border, from where some touts and organised groups help Rohingyas sneak into India.

“There are organised criminals on both sides who assist in their (Rohingyas) entry to India. So, we are mounting a campaign against these touts. We have deployed forces to strengthen security at these vulnerable posts. More manpower, technological inputs, and gadgets have been put in place.”

Surveillance equipment, the BSF chief said, from other BSF posts have been diverted and deployed all along the eastern frontier.

“We are in touch with our sister agencies, intelligence agencies, to identify and take action against these touts. Because, these people (Rohingyas) cannot come on their own,” Sharma said.

The BSF Director General said the border force has “sensitised” local populace to inform authorities about people entering Indian illegally.

He said the BSF is constantly in touch with the BGB on a daily basis. “Our commanders on the border can speak to each other quickly and share intelligence on any movement of Rohingyas.”

BGB chief Hossain told the media that his country had already begun mandatory registration of all Rohingyas entering Bangladesh.

He said his country was planning to fence the country’s border with Myanmar.

“Five lakh people (Rohingyas) have already come to Bangladesh. It is a problem for our country… they (Rohingyas) cannot spread all over the country. Our government has taken a decision and the refugees have been housed in Cox’s Bazar district,” the BGB chief said.

He said the BGB had identified exit and entry points (of Rohingyas), which are being guarded by the force, and have started registration of the refugees.

“Our citizens have been informed to share details on any such person to law enforcement agencies,” Hossain said, adding Myanmar had told Bangladesh to set up a joint working committee to find out Rohingyas and send them back to their native place.

At the DG-level talks, the BGB raised issues like firing, killing, injuring, and beating of Bangladesh nationals by the BSF as well as arrest or detention of Bangladesh citizens.

Smuggling of firearms, ammunition, explosive, drugs, development works within 150 yards of the International Border, assistance for river bank protection works along the border, confidence-building measure, exchange of visit by BGB-BSF medical team, prevention against attacks on BSF personnel by Bangladeshi criminals, and prevention of trans-border crimes was discussed at the meet.

On Friday, a Joint Record of Discussions was signed by the Directors General of BSF and BGB. The next DG-level talk will be hosted by the BGB in Dhaka in February/March 2018.