Dhaka, March 14 (IANS) A leading Bangladesh daily newspaper Monday welcomed an assurance by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) that its personnel would use non-lethal weapons in tackling illegal border crossing.
“We would much rather they had no use for weapons at all. For we want a full stop to killings rather than bringing down the number of firing incidents,” The Daily Star said in an editorial.
A New Delhi meeting at the level of directors general of the border forces ended on a positive note last week after BSF chief Raman Shrivatava announced that his force’s personnel would be issued non-lethal weapons at some points.
Dhaka has been unhappy over the large number of shooting incidents in which 1,000 people have died in the last decade, according to Bangladeshi human rights group Odhikar.
The BSF has said its men fire “in self defence” as those crossing border illegally in early hours include smugglers and traffickers of humans, cattle, arms and drugs and they are armed.
“We like to see the BSF use non-lethal weapons in all circumstances since the nature of our borders is permeable and by no means hostile. We should be especially mindful to avoid any unsavoury incident,” the editorial said.
“On top of everything these borders are between two friendly and not inimical countries. That is why a delicate balance would have to be struck in our border guarding approaches.
“Furthermore, the friendship and cordiality that the governments of Bangladesh and India exude in their relationship will be squarely reflected via the existence of a border of peace between the two countries.
“In case of illegal border crossing or intrusion, instead of taking recourse to shooting, the Border Security Force only need to follow the procedure laid down in the rules of engagement,” the newspaper said.
India and Bangladesh share a 4,300 km border.
In the current friendly phase of bilateral relations, the two South Asian neighbours are in the process of working out an exchange of over 150 thickly populated enclaves in each other’s possession.
The enclaves’ exchange and several issues pertaining to border management were discussed during the January 2010 visit to New Delhi by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.