Bangladeshi, Indian Leaders Vow to Improve Border Cooperation

Kamran Reza Chowdhury

2015-11-17
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151117-terrortalks-620 Indian Border Security Force personnel patrol the border with Bangladesh, near the Fulbari post, Jan. 4, 2014.
AFP

Updated at 6:44 p.m. ET on 2015-11-18

Bangladesh and India have agreed to cooperate in rooting out cross-border terrorist and insurgent threats, a senior Bangladeshi official said Tuesday after the home secretaries of both countries wrapped up a two-day meeting in Dhaka.

The two governments agreed to share more intelligence about activities along the border as well as put an end to Bangladeshi citizens being killed by Indian border guards while trying to cross into India – an issue that has been a long-running sore point with Bangladeshis and a stumbling block in bilateral relations.

“We have decided to contain [cross-border] terrorism and insurgency through enhanced intelligence sharing, Md. Mozammel Haque Khan, senior secretary of Bangladesh’s home ministry, told reporters after the meeting at the Hotel Sonargoan ended.

“We have assured them that no Indian separatist group can run camps inside Bangladesh,” he added.

Expressing zero tolerance for terrorism, Khan said Bangladesh was aware that some anti-Indian groups might be actively concealing their identities.

Indian Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi declined to speak to reports after the meeting.

After Paris, Beirut

Former Bangladeshi Home Secretary C.Q.K. Mustaq Ahmed welcomed the news that the two countries were going to enhance intelligence sharing about cross-border activity, saying that last week’s terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris – both of which were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group – underscored the importance of such bilateral cooperation.

“We have been sharing intelligence on terrorism and insurgency, but the cooperation should be enhanced as the attacks in Paris and Beirut have changed everything,” Ahmed told BenarNews.

In addition to legal actions, India and Bangladesh should cooperate in counterterrorism efforts by focusing on people who could be recruited by extremist groups, Ahmed said.

‘Zero border killing’

Khan, the home ministry’s senior secretary, said his Indian counterpart had assured him that the killings of Bangladeshis by Indian forces would “come to zero,” referring to 28 people killed along the border between January and October.

“The border killings are one of the thorny issues in the Bangladesh-India bilateral relations. The two countries agreed to completely stop the border killings. The killing has come down, but it is yet to stop,” former foreign secretary Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said.

Bangladesh and India share a border that is longer than 4,000 km (2,485 miles). Some sections are porous. Before the formal demarcation of the borders in 2015, thousands of Bangladeshis were killed by the BSF and the Indian residents since 1972.

India alleged that most of the Bangladeshis killed were criminals or involved in smuggling of goods.

A media uproar in Bangladesh and India forced Indian authorities to apologize for killing a 15-year Bangladeshi girl as she crossed through the border fence.

“Border killings must stop to earn the confidence of the people living in the bordering areas to contain the cross-boundary terrorism and insurgency. The local people must be engaged,” Afzal Hossain, a local businessman in Chunarughat, Hobiganj, told BenarNews.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to home ministers, and omitted the full name and title of former foreign secretary Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury.

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