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Lack of courtesy by BGB irks officials as India returns rescued Bangladeshi fishermen

Photographs released by the BSF show the armed BGB troops and nothing in their expressions reveal any bonhomie.

IANS | Kolkata |

Lack of courtesy shown by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) has irked irked the Border Security Force (BSF) officials, who handed over two rescued Bangladeshi fishermen to the BGB on Tuesday.

“Our boys risked their lives to save them. They received medical attention on our floating BOP and were fed and clothed. Yet, when we proceeded to hand over the two fishermen to Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) as a gesture of goodwill, there was hardly any expression of gratitude. Rather, four fully-armed BGB personnel stood around though our official was unarmed as was supposed to be during a flag meeting. This is clear lack of courtesy,” a BSF official said.

Md Hanif Maula (50) and Md Salim Halder (21) were part of a group of nine Bangladeshi fishermen caught in bad weather conditions while fishing in the Haribhanga river – a natural boundary between India and Bangladesh along West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district on Sunday.

The crankshaft of their mechanised boat got damaged after which all the occupants made an attempt to swim to safety. Indian fishermen spotted Maula and Halder in bad shape and troops of the 118 BSF battalion rushed to their rescue. The two were taken aboard a floating BOP passing the area.

“They were nearly unconscious when we brought them aboard. We provided first-aid, food, water and dry clothes after reviving the two. After calls to the BGB to take them back, a flag meeting was finally arranged mid-river on Tuesday.

“When our personnel climbed onto the Bangladeshi boat with the two fishermen to complete the formalities, they were greeted by AK-47 toting BGB troops. It seemed as if they were doing us a great favour by accepting their own citizens. This is not something that is expected during a meeting between friendly neighbours,” the BSF official said.

Photographs released by the BSF show the armed BGB troops and nothing in their expressions reveal any bonhomie.

A few years ago, a trigger-happy BGB staff had shot dead an unarmed sub-inspector of the BSF after a discussion on the release of Indian fishermen who had strayed across the international boundary between the two countries. Bangladesh has still not made it clear to India whether the BGB official received adequate punishment for such a crime.