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BSF kills two Bangladeshis

Our Correspondent, Lalmonirhat
Two Bangladeshi cattle traders were shot dead allegedly by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) along Hatibandha border in Lalmonirhat yesterday morning.

Omar Faruq, officer-in-charge of Hatibandha Police Station, said they, along with the members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), recovered the bodies from Bonchauki border in Gotamari upazila.

The bodies of Suruj Islam, 18, and Suruj Mia, 37, of Amjhola village in the upazila, were sent to Lalmonihat Sadar Hospital morgue for autopsies, our Lalmonirhat correspondent reported.

Quoting witnesses, Tapas Chandra, commander of Banchauki BGB Camp, said BSF patrol team of Setai camp in Cooch Behar district of India’s West Bengal opened fire on the duo when they were entering Bangladesh with Indian cattle.

Lt Colonel Tauhidul Alam, commander officer (CO) of Lalmonirhat 15 BGB Battalion, said they sent a letter to BSF protesting the killing of the two Bangladeshis.

https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/bsf-kills-two-bangladeshis-1857733

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BSF kills 4 Bangladeshis in Noagaon, Jashore

India’s Border Security Force (BSF) reportedly killed four Bangladeshi nationals, said to be cattle traders, along the Noagaon and Jashore borders.

Among the deceased, three were shot along the Porsha border in Naogaon, while another was tortured to death along the Putkhali border in Sharsa upazila of Jashore.

The news surfaced a day after the killing of two Bangladeshi cattle traders by BSF members along the Hatibandha border in Lalmonirhat.

The dead in Naogaon were identified as Md Mofizul, 35, of Chak Bishnupur village; Ronjit Kumar, 32, of Bijli village; and Kamal Hossain, 34, of Patapukur in Porsha upazila, our Chapainawabganj correspondent reports, quoting a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) official, who sought anonymity.

The victim tortured to death was Hanef Ali Khoka, 35, of Agrabhulat village under Sharsa upazila in Jashore.

Shahinur Rahman, officer-in-charge (OC) of Porsha Police Station, told our correspondent that the three cattle traders were gunned down when they, along with some others, were bringing in cattle from India.

The body of Md Mofizul was recovered in the afternoon from the Bangladesh side, while the bodies of the two others are still on Indian ground, he said.

Lt Colonel Ariful Haque, commanding officer of 16 BGB Battalion in Naogaon, confirmed the death on the Bangladesh side.

In Jashore, Hanef was caught by BSF members of Bannabaria camp on Wednesday noon when he, along with some other cattle traders, were returning with cows, our Benapole correspondent reports, quoting locals.

Hanef died at one stage after he was tortured by BSF members, said Tabuibar Rahman, local union parishad member.

BGB asked BSF for a flag meeting after the family members of Hanef informed their camp, said Subadar Mozammel Hossain, in charge of Agrabhulat BGB camp.

https://www.thedailystar.net/country/news/bsf-kills-4-bangladeshis-noagaon-jashore-1858090

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BSF ‘apologises’ for killing three Bangladeshis in border firing

https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2020/01/23/bsf-apologises-for-killing-three-bangladeshis-in-border-firing

India’s Border Security Force or BSF has “apologised” over the deaths of three Bangladeshis in firing by its personnel, the Border Guard Bangladesh says.

The BGB says it “condemned” the killings and called for efforts to stop recurrence of such incidents in a flag meeting at the Naogaon border with BSF personnel on Thursday afternoon.

BGB 16 Battalion Commanding Officer Lt Col Ariful Haque and 159 BSF Battalion Commander Harsha Joshi led their sides in the meeting.

Porsha Police Station OC Shahinul Islam said they had retrieved the body of Mafizul Islam, 35, from the border and sent it to a hospital for post-mortem examination.

The BSF told the BGB that the bodies of Ranjit Kumar, 25, and Kamal Hossain, 32, would be sent back in line with the legal procedure, Lt Col Ariful said.

The victims are from Dighipra village of Porsha.

BSF opened fire on them when the trio and their companions were returning from India with smuggled cattle very early in the morning on Thursday, according to officials and locals.

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BGB ought to shoot a couple Indians dead near the border regardless of provocation, I'm tired of reading about innocent Bangladeshi men, women and children being shot dead by the trigger happy BSF. Time to set the records straight and trade lives for lives.

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Kill a few BSF goons or a few Indians and then apologize, it'll only be fair.

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Can’t blame others for border killing while smuggling cattle

Says food minister

Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder yesterday said the government will not take the responsibility if anyone is shot to death along the border while bringing cattle from India.

He made the remarks while talking to reporters after attending the founding anniversary programme of Damkurahat High School in Poba upazila of Rajshahi.
“It’ll be pointless to blame others unless our character is good,” he said when asked about the shooting down of three Bangladeshi nationals by members of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) in his constituency Porsha of Naogaon.

On January 23, the three Bangladeshis –- Sanjit Kumar, Mofizul Islam and Kamal Hossain — were killed by BSF members along Doarpalla border in Porsha upazila of Naogaon.

BSF men also took away the bodies of two of the victims.

The minister said, “We won’t allow anyone to bring cattle from India. Our upazila, district law-and-order committees and BGB adopted a resolution in this regard. Bangladesh government won’t take the responsibility if anyone is shot to death while bringing cattle cutting the barbed-wire fence.”

He also said efforts are on to bring back the bodies of the two Bangladeshi nationals.

Border killing has been a contentious bilateral issue between the two neighbours who share a porous 4,100-km border.

Delhi had promised to bring down border killings to zero over the years but the BSF continues to shoot dead Bangladeshis along the border.

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I agree with the minister.

1. We have enough domestic cattle in the country.

2. Indian cattle sometimes carries anthrax.

3. Cattle traders know the risk. Its ultimately their fault.

4. Cattle traders and BSF are both responsible for the crisis at the border. Usually disagreements related to bribes causes the shootings.

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রাজশাহী সীমান্তে হুটহাট ঢুকে পড়ছে বিএসএফ

রাজশাহী প্রতিনিধি
 প্রকাশিত : ১৭:২৪ ২ ফেব্রুয়ারি ২০২০

bsf-inner-2002021124.jpg

 

বাংলাদেশের সীমানায় হুটহাট ঢুকে পড়ছে ভারতীয় সীমান্ত রক্ষাকারী বাহিনী বর্ডার সিকিউরিটি ফোর্স (বিএসএফ)। বিশেষ করে পদ্মা নদী ও চর এলাকায় তারা প্রবেশ করছে। এক্ষেত্রে তারা মানছেন না সীমান্ত আইন। ফলে আতঙ্কে থাকেন সীমান্ত এলাকার কৃষক ও পদ্মা নদীর জেলেরা। এ নিয়ে বিজিবি-বিএসএফের মধ্যে উত্তেজনাও দেখা দিচ্ছে। 

সর্বশেষ গত শুক্রবার দুপুরে রাজশাহীর গোদাগাড়ী উপজেলার খরচাকা সীমান্ত পেরিয়ে প্রায় দেড় কিলোমিটার বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরে ঢুকে পড়ে বিএসএফ । একটি স্প্রীটবোড নিয়ে পাঁচজন বিএসএফ সদস্য এসে বাংলাদেশি চার জেলেকে ধরে। খবর পেয়ে দ্রুত বিজিবি সদস্যরা গিয়ে চার জেলেকে ছাড়িয়ে নেয়। এ সময় বিএসএফ ওই স্থানটি তাদের দাবি করলে বিজিবির সঙ্গে  হয় উভয়ের। 

এ ঘটনার মোবাইলে ধারণ করা একটি ভিডিও ফুটেজ পাওয়া গেছে। সেখানে দেখা যাচ্ছে, বিএসএফ সদস্যরা চার জেলেকে ধরে। এ সময় ইঞ্চিন চালিত একটি নৌকা নিয়ে খরচাকা বিওপি ক্যাম্পের বিজিবি সদস্যরা গিয়ে তাদের ছাড়িয়ে নেয়। এর ঘন্টা খানেক আগে পাশের চর থেকে পাঁচ রাখালকে ধরে নিয়ে যায় বিএসএফ। 

রাজশাহী পবা উপজেলার হরিপুর ইউনিয়ন পরিষদের চেয়ারম্যান বজলে রেজবী আল হাসান মুঞ্জিল বলেন, হুটহাট করে বিএসএফ বাংলাদেশে সীমানায় চলে আসে। এ নিয়ে পদ্মার চরে চাষাবাদ ও পদ্মায় মাছ ধরতে নিয়োজিত জেলেরা আতঙ্কে তাকেন। বিষয়টি নিয়ে উচ্চ পর্যায়ে বৈঠক করা প্রয়োজন বলে মনে করেন এই জনপ্রতিনিধি।

বিজিবির রাজশাহী-১ ব্যাটালিয়নের অধিনায়ক লে. কর্নেল ফেরদৌস জিয়াউদ্দিন মাহমুদ বলেন, পাঁচ বাংলাদেশীকে ধরে নিয়ে যাওয়াসহ অনুপ্রবেশের বিষয় নিয়ে শনিবার কোম্পানী কমান্ডার পর্যায়ে পতাকা বৈঠক হয়েছে। নির্মল চরের ৫০/৪ এস সীমান্ত পিলারের কাছে এ পতাকা বৈঠক আয়োজন করা হয়। পতাকা বৈঠকে অনুপ্রবেশের বিষয় নিয়ে বিজিবির পক্ষ থেকে প্রতিবাদ জানানো হয়েছে। বিএসএফ ওই জায়গাটি নিজের বলে দাবি করেছে। 

ফেরদৌস জিয়াউদ্দিন মাহমুদ বলেন, যেখান থেকে পাঁচ বাংলাদেশিকে ধরে নিয়ে যাওয়া হয়েছে এবং পদ্মার যেখান থেকে চার জেলেকে ধরে নিয়ে যাওয়ার চেষ্টা করা হয়েছিল সেটি বাংলাদেশের সীমানা। বিএসএফের এই অনুপ্রবেশের বিষয়টি উচ্চ পর্যায়ে জানানো হয়েছে। এ নিয়ে বিজিবি ও বিএসএফের উচ্চ পর্যায়ে বৈঠক হবে বলেও জানান এই বিজিবি কর্মকর্তা।

শুক্রবার গোদাগাড়ী উপজেলার খরচাকা সীমান্ত থেকে পাঁচ বাংলাদেশিকে ধরে নিয়ে যায় বিএসএফ। পরে নিয়ম ভেঙে বিজিবিকে না জানিয়ে তাদের বিরুদ্ধে মামলা দিয়ে থানায় দেয়া হয়। বিএসএফের হাতে আটককৃতরা হলেন, রাজন হোসেন (২৫), সোহেল রানা (২৭), কাবিল হোসেন (২৫), শাহীন আলী (৩৫) ও শফিকুল ইসলাম (৩০)। পবা উপজেলার গহমাবোনা গ্রামে তাদের বাড়ি। পদ্মার চরে তারা গরু চরাতে গিয়েছিলেন। 

এর আগে ভারতীয় এক জেলেকে আটকের জের ধরে গত বছরের ১৭ অক্টোবর অনুমতি ছাড়াও প্রায় এক কিলোমিটার বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরে চলে আসে ভারতীয় সীমান্ত রক্ষাকারী বাহিনী বর্ডার সিকিউরিটি ফোর্সের (বিএসএফ)। তারা এসেই সীমান্ত রক্ষাকারী বাহিনী বর্ডার গার্ড বাংলাদেশের (বিজিবি) কাছ থেকে ভারতীয় জেলেকে ছিনিয়ে নেয়ার চেষ্টা করে। 

এতে বাধা দিতে গেলে বিএসএফ গুলি চালায়। পাল্টা জবাব দিতে বিজিবি গুলি চালালে বিএসএফের এক সদস্য নিহত ও একজন আহত হন। এ নিয়ে দুইদিন পর সেক্টর পর্যায়ে দুই বাহিনীর পতাকা বৈঠক হয়। ওই পতাকা বৈঠকে অনুমতি ছাড়া বাংলাদেশ সীমানায় প্রবেশ করবে না বলে প্রতিস্রুতি দিলেও তা আনছে না ভারতীয় এই বাহিনী।

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11 Bangladeshis killed by BSF in one month: BGB

Special Correspondent, Dhaka

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) said a total of 11 unarmed Bangladeshis were killed in border areas with India by the Indian border forces from December 25, 2019 to February 5 of this year. Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Director (Planning), Lt. Col. Syed Ashiqur Rahman disclosed the information to journalists at a press briefing at the force’s headquarters at Peelkhana in the capital yesterday.

“In most cases, we are not immediately informed of the incidents. We only get to know about the incidents when BSF return the dead bodies to us. We then send letter of protest to the BSF,” said Ashiqur. “The authorities concerned have already discussed the issue of border killings in recent talks between the border forces of the two countries,” he further said.

 “Sharing of information between BGB and BSF are going on to stop border killings and also to stop cross-border terrorism,” Ashiqur added. While replying to a question, Lt. Col. Ashiqur said that BGB has identified a number of smugglers, who are currently under surveillance of different law enforcement agencies.

The BGB official informed that the force has confiscated huge quantities of smuggled goods and drugs worth Tk 970 million along borders in last one month. Of the confiscated drugs, there are 7,23,685 yaba pills, 40,741 bottles of phensedyls and banned liquor, cannabis, heroin as well as other injectable narcotics, he added.

The forces also seized gold jewellery weighing 14.5-kg, cosmetics, clothes, sculptures, firearms, 21 trucks, 6 pick-ups, a private car, 11 auto-rickshaws and 54 motorcycles, the BGB official added.

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BGB: 11 Bangladeshis killed in 43 days near Indian borders

Arifur Rahman Rabbi
Published at 03:53 pm February 5th, 2020
At the same time, BSF detained 40 Bangladeshis and 2 Indians

As many as 11 Bangladeshi citizens have been killed at the border regions with India in the last 43 days. 

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Director (planning) Lt Col Syed Ashiqur Rahman this at a press conference at the BGB headquarters on Wednesday.

At the same time, Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) detained 40 Bangladeshis and 2 Indians for crossing the border illegally.

He was giving a brief about BGB’s achievements against drugs and smuggling during the January period.

BGB detained 272 people and took legal action against them for their alleged involvement in various drug trafficking and other smuggling.

Lt Col Ashiqur said most of the people killed were cattle traders.

The official said they are trying to bring the casualty incidents to zero numbers which are being discussed between the two forces (BGB and BSF) 

“We are also making people aware of ensuring that they do not engage in any illegal works on the border or go to to India by mistake,” he added.

“On the other hand, we have increased our surveillance. We have identified the sensitive areas and increased the security there,” he said. 

In January, BGB seized various types of smuggled goods and narcotics amounting to Tk971,803,000.

The seized items include – yaba pills, marijuana, alcohol, phensedyl, injection, wood, koshti pathor, sharis, ready-made garment products, tea leaves, gold, pickup van, private car, CNG run auto-rickshaw, motorcycle and many more

Two pistols, four guns, two magazines and 10 rounds of bullets were also seized, the BGB director added. 

The BGB director further said BGB has plans to establish “Bangabandhu Shikkha Niketon” in different BGB BOP on the occasion of Mujib Year. 

In addition to schools, there will be various types of technical education for  men and women of the border area. “We have already started activities in this regard,” he said

Besides this, BGB has been doing various public welfare activities to improve the quality of life of people in the border areas, he added.

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Detained Bangladeshi dies in Indian hospital

Moazzem Hossain, Lalmonirhat
Published at 11:25 pm February 6th, 2020

The deceased, Delwar Hossain, 29, of Durgapur village in Aditmari upazila, died while undergoing treatment at a Coochbehar hospital in West Bengal

A Bangladeshi man has reportedly died in an Indian hospital after India’s Border Security Force (BSF) detained him for trespassing through the Durgapur frontier in Lalmonirhat.

The deceased, Delwar Hossain, 29, of Durgapur village in Aditmari upazila, died while undergoing treatment at a Coochbehar hospital in West Bengal, according to his wife Bilkis Begum.

She said: “My husband, who suffers from mental illnesses, went missing while I was away at my father’s house with my five year-old daughter on January 22. Later I came to learn Delwar had been detained by the BSF in India and later died in a hospital there.”

However, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB 15) Commanding Officer Lt Col SM Tauhidul Alam could not confirm the death and said: “We have confirmed that BSF detained a man named Delwar from the border on January 22.”

After a flag meeting with the BSF scheduled for Friday, we can be certain of his death,” he added.

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No coronavirus test for Indian truck drivers at Benapole

Our Correspondent | Wednesday, 5 February 2020

BENAPOLE: Indian truck drivers and helpers are entering Bangladesh through Benapole Land Port, along with imported goods, without coronavirus test.

Sources said, only travellers from India are being tested for coronavirus at the Benapole international check post.

Since the news of the virus infecting an Indian spread, many have raised the possibility of the virus being transmitted through their nationals into Bangladesh.

On average, 6,000 to 7,000 travellers pass through Benapole international check post daily. A medical team is working at the Immigration checkpoint so that the virus cannot spread to the country.

The Health Department is working at Benapole check post has completed the coronavirus examination of a total of 5,536 foreign nationals in the last 14 days.

But every day around 1,000 to 1,200 Indian truck drivers and helpers enter Bangladesh through the land port. Sometimes they go to Benapole Bazar to purchase essential items and go back to India. There is no provision for their health check up here.

Indian truck driver Karthik Das said after entering Bangladesh with the truck, there was no health check up system. There is no checkup system even in India.

Tests will be done on the drivers and helpers also if necessary, said Health Officer of Benapole Health Complex Dr Bichitra Mollick.

Dr Mallick said a medical team is working at the checkpost to prevent coronavirus under the direction of the government and the Health Department. The medical team works until the travelers, locally called passengers, continue to enter Bangladesh.

Deputy Director of Benapole Port Abdul Jalil said, "Instructions will be given to Indian truck drivers for health check-ups before entering Bangladesh."

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Phensedyl Smuggling: Pouring in unchecked

Inflow of the banned cough syrup ‘rising with factories in India relocated, reopened’
Mohammad Jamil Khan

The smuggling of Phensedyl through various border points appears to be rising with alleged relocation and reopening of some factories in India.

The flow of this drug into Bangladesh had declined after the Indian health ministry banned it on March 11, 2016. The authorities reportedly had closed down factories in the bordering districts of India though production of the cough syrup actually never stopped.

In recent years, narco syndicates have started manufacturing this contraband in factories relocated deep into the Indian state of Bihar from bordering areas, according to intelligence sources.

Law enforcement officials in Bangladesh say they have come to know about some Phensedyl factories that resumed production. Their knowledge of possible locations of the factories have been communicated to Indian counterparts.

According to two narcotics dealers in Chapainawabganj, a district bordering Murshidabad and Maldah in West Bengal, the price of 100 bottles of Phensedyl was Tk 20,000 to Tk 24,000 before the shutdown of factories in Indian border areas in 2016.

But the price went up after the factories were relocated and reopened, they said. It is now Tk 28,000 to Tk 30,000 for one hundred bottles.

“We do not know the exact locations of the factories but the bottles are now mainly coming to Bangladesh from North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad and Maldah of India,” said one of the dealers.

“Most probably, this Phensedyl was not produced in any of these districts in West Bengal as we have found ‘Made in Bihar’ written on the labels.”

According to Bangladeshi intelligence agencies, around 38 Indian nationals of Maldah and Murshidabad are now involved in Phensedyl trafficking. 

They gather the bottles in some houses near the border. Once the order is confirmed, they push those into Bangladesh, sources added.

AFM Masum Rabbani, director (operation) of the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), said the smuggling of the codeine-based syrup recently increased but they have already taken necessary steps to combat the menace.

A DNC report says phensedyl and other drugs are entering the country through 58 border points.

Jamal Uddin Ahmed, director general of the DNC, told The Daily Star on January 16 that there have been signs of rise in phensedyl smuggling in recent years.

“We have already informed this to the Indian authorities and requested them to take necessary measures.”

Asked about the reasons behind the rise in Phensedyl flow, he said they have found that the majority of narcotics users in Bangladesh are habituated to taking multiple drugs.

“As the supply of yaba has come down due to law enforcers’ stepped-up vigilance, the smugglers are trying to have a grip on the market with Phensedyl,” he said.

Lt Col Md Mohiuddin Ahmed, director (operation) at Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Headquarters, echoed the same.

He admitted that phensedyl smuggling has never been stopped completely and that the supply has slightly increased recently. “But we are on high alert and taking strict actions against narcotics,” he added.

According to the home ministry data, 5.66 lakh bottles of Phensedyl were seized in 2016 and 8.70 lakh the previous year.

In 2017, the seizure rose to 7.10 lakh bottles, and 7.15 lakh the next year. The recovery crossed 7.80 lakh bottles in the first ten months of last year.

Last month, the BGB recovered 40,741 bottles across the country, says a press release of the paramilitary force. 

On the other hand, around 25 lakh yaba tablets were recovered by all law enforcement agencies in 2018. It was six lakh pills in the first six months of last year.

Sources say the yaba tablets are available in different areas of Dhaka but the open sale of the mad drugs mostly stopped after law enforcers started an anti-narcotics crackdown in May 2018.

Yaba syndicates are adopting different strategies that include operating online and using mobile phones for sale and delivery. 

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৬ বিএসএফ সদস্যকে আটকের পর ফেরত দিল বিজিবি

প্রতিনিধি, কসবা, ব্রা‏হ্মণবাড়িয়া
২০ ফেব্রুয়ারি ২০২০, ১৯:০০
আপডেট: ২০ ফেব্রুয়ারি ২০২০, ১৯:০২
  

কুমিল্লার ব্রাহ্মণপাড়া উপজেলার ভাল্লক গ্রামের সীমান্তে আটক ভারতীয় সীমান্তরক্ষী বাহিনীর (বিএসএফ) ছয় সদস্যকে ফেরত দিয়েছে বর্ডার গার্ড বাংলাদেশ (বিজিবি)। আটকের দুই ঘণ্টা পর পতাকা বৈঠকের মাধ্যমে বৃহস্পতিবার বেলা ১১টার দিকে তাঁদের ফেরত পাঠানো হয়।

বিজিবি ও স্থানীয় সূত্রে জানা যায়, ব্রাহ্মণপাড়া উপজেলার শশীদল ইউনিয়নের ভাল্লক গ্রামের ভারত সীমান্তের ২০৫৭ পিলারের পাশ দিয়ে বৃহস্পতিবার সকাল নয়টার দিকে ত্রিপুরা রাজ্যের বিএসএফের ৭৪ ব্যাটালিয়নের রহিমপুর ক্যাম্পের টহলরত বিএসএফের দুই সদস্য বাংলাদেশের ঢুকে পড়েন। এ সময় বিজিবির সদস্যরা ওই দুজনকে আটক করেন। তাঁদের ছাড়িয়ে নিতে বিএসএফের ওই ক্যাম্পের আরও চার সদস্য বাংলাদেশে প্রবেশ করেন। তখন ওই চারজনকেও আটক করে বিজিবি। এ ঘটনায় পতাকা বৈঠকের মাধ্যমে বেলা ১১টার দিকে বিএসএফের ছয় সদস্যকে ফেরত পাঠায় বিজিবি।

পতাকা বৈঠকে বাংলাদেশের পক্ষে নেতৃত্ব দেন ৬০ বর্ডার গার্ড ব্যাটালিয়নের সংকোচাইল ক্যাম্পের কোম্পানি কমান্ডার সুবেদার মো. মহিউদ্দিন ও ভারতের ৭৪ বিএসএফের আশাবাড়ি ক্যাম্পের কোম্পানি কমান্ডার পরিদর্শক মহাবীর প্রসাদ।


৬০ বর্ডার গার্ড ব্যাটালিয়নের সহকারী পরিচালক মো. রফিকুল ইসলাম প্রথম আলোকে বলেন, ‘ভুলবশত বিএসএফের সদস্যরা বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরে ঢুকে পড়েন। তাঁদের আটক করে বিজিবি। কোম্পানি কমান্ডার পর্যায়ে পতাকা বৈঠকের মাধ্যমে তাঁদের ফেরত দেওয়া হয়েছে।’

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12:00 AM, February 22, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:42 AM, February 22, 2020

Separated, yet not

Zyma Islam traverses three border points -- Banglabandha, Sonamasjid, and Burimari -- in the northwest to get a glimpse of life along the blurring borderline that Bangladesh-India shares

Zyma Islam

indian_terrritory.jpg?itok=CoxpQzZU

A Bangladeshi sharecropper tilling the soil in the Indian territory beside Namochakpara in Chapainawabganj’s Shibganj upazila. The owner of the land employs Bangladeshi workers as Milik Sultanpur, the nearest Indian village, is farther away from the plot. Photo: Zyma Islam

Imagine the land border between India and Bangladesh. What do you think it is like? A fence that runs for miles? A craggy, clearly demarcated line like the one seen on maps?    

To most of us, crossing the border requires much ceremony. Plans need to be made in advance.

Communities living along the border will tell you otherwise. To many of them, the border is an invisible line anyone can step over without a visa.

At the Chapainawabganj-Malda border, one finds Bangladeshi nationals tilling Indian land, and vice-versa. They cross over each day to work on these lands -- but perhaps "cross over" is too presumptuous a term. They simply walk over to these lands, the border of no consequence.

At the border of Namochakpara, a bone-thin septuagenarian named Habibur Rahman swung his hoe into the earth, cracking the surface. He is an Indian. Beside him worked two sharecroppers, Mamun and his brother, who are both Bangladeshis. The soil they till, is Indian land, belonging to a village called Milik Sultanpur. The border here runs diagonally through a strip of fields, separating Bangladesh and India.

"India starts from here," said Habibur, pointing to a small pyramid-shaped boundary marker nestled beneath a grove of banana trees. To reach his field one has to walk past it, into Indian territory.

"My house is in Milik Sultanpur. This land is my ancestral property. I got two sharecroppers from Namochakpara because the land is closer to Bangladesh than to my village in India," he said. While Mamun and his brother had been working with Habibur for only two years, he has always chosen Bangladeshi workers because they were just geographically closer.

"Every day, I submit my Adhaar card to a BSF (Border Security Force) camp before coming to the land. I have to return to collect the card before the camp closes at four in the afternoon," describes Habibur. "They frisk me twice a day, on my way to my land and back."

Meanwhile, Mamun and his brother have no such restrictions, even though they are the ones crossing political borders. "We are the ones who actually take care of the land. We guard it at night so that the crops do not get stolen," said Mamun.

At Tarapur of Chapainawabganj, the river known to us as Padma, and to the Indians as the Ganges, acts as a border between the two countries. For a river that people should not be able to cross, it had far too many large sampans that were clearly not meant for carrying passengers -- Tarapur's residents are all flourishing cattle-rearers... and smugglers.

bismillah_hotel_straddles_the_border.jpg

Bismillah Hotel straddles the border between Bangladesh and India. The hotel serves its guests on Bangladeshi soil, but its kitchen is in the Indian territory. The photos were taken recently. Photo: Zyma Islam

But a smuggler named Shaikat (name changed for protection) does not see this as smuggling. "They do not need cows, but we need cows. Our forefathers have always brought cows through this route. We have a lot of open land here under the mango orchards for the cows to graze in, so rearing cows here is cheaper. Everyone has always done this," he explains. For him, international laws of trade and taxation are a far removed concept -- in his perception, what he was doing is as simple as bringing cattle across a river so narrow, you can see the other side.

A man stood in front of the river to show his sister-in-law's house on the other side in India. "See that tower there? That is where she lives. They put up a fence 10 years ago. Before that, we used to cross the river to visit her routinely. Since the fences were erected we have to make a very long detour through the immigration office, so we barely see her anymore."

This is true -- my grandfather, a former Indian national, crossed the river the same way multiple times before fences were put up. He crossed the Padma at the Godagari-Lalgola border where the river is at its narrowest, to marry my grandmother, a young eligible woman hailing from Sirajganj.

As border control tightened, and passports, visas and land ports became mandatory, my bedridden, dying grandmother had lamented to me, "Seems like I won't be able to see my shoshurbari one last time before I die." She didn't.

Fast forward to the next generation, and my uncle did the same. He traversed the river to marry a girl from India, and on their way back to Bangladesh, while walking across the treeless char under the blazing summer sun, my newly-wed aunt fainted. A few years later, in 1990, my mother crossed the river to go there and back -- not to get married this time, but rather to shop for her wedding benarasi.

Just like a river could not keep my mother away from her coveted sari, immigration rules cannot keep the grooms and brides of Sonamasjid away from the wedding couture of Malda. If one can get someone to shop for their trousseau in Malda, there exists a group of people armed with visas and willing to make a day-trip to Malda to bring the goods back.

Outside the Sonamasjid land port, Bairul paced anxiously. "My nephew is getting married. We got our relatives in Malda to finish shopping for the bride and groom. Today, I sent a person to cross over and get the things from them. He should be back within the hour," he said.

Why did he choose Malda, instead of the divisional city of Rajshahi? "For the people of Chapai, Malda is closer and the goods are better. Especially the cosmetics, which are essential for brides."

At the Burimari-Changrabandha border, a bamboo enclosure exists at the zero point for people of Bangladesh and India to meet. The bamboo enclosure is unique -- two fences set a few feet apart run in parallel through the middle of the enclosure. People from either side of the border gather around the fences under the watchful eyes of the border patrols to yell pleasantries at each other. The idea is you can see but you can't touch.

Arif Hossain yelled at his uncle in Hindi, "And is everything else going good?" His uncle yelled back in the affirmative. The conversation died down and they gazed blankly at each other, both at a loss of words, both unable to share anything more than a longing look. I asked Arif whether his uncle visits them in Bangladesh.

"No. He left the country many years ago, but has not yet gotten a passport because of lack of documentation. Maybe he can get one soon," replied Arif. What was unsaid but implied is that his uncle is an undocumented migrant in India.

Beside Arif, Babul handed Tk 1,000 to a red-shirted porter and asked him to give it to a woman in a bright orange sari. The porters, who help people carry their bags over the border, are the only ones who can cross over and come back without a visa. "That is my cousin. I need her to send some medicines from India, and there is no other way to send money from Bangladesh," explained Babul, sheepish at having been caught in the illegal act.

Back at Chapainawabganj, near the Sonamasjid-Mahdipur border, the political boundary is as odd as it gets. The border skirts the Kashinathpur-Rajshahi highway for a good few hundred yards before one encounters the immigration office. They are so close, that say if a vehicle skidded off the highway, it would fall into a ditch on the Indian side.

A derelict, abandoned Border Guard Bangladesh checkpoint, which locals have resourcefully co-opted as a dustbin, attempts to let people know that they are now on Indian land -- in vain. Bangladeshi traders and passengers alike took advantage of the shade provided by the large mango-trees on Indian land. 

It is at this spot where Bismillah bhaater hotel begins off in Bangladesh, and ends in India. The modest outfit offers an expansive buffet of the local cuisine for tired travelers, all of which is cooked in its kitchen on Indian land. "Our kitchen is in India," laughs Azizur, one of the cooks, as he kneaded dough for puri, adding cheekily "and so is our toilet!"

And it is here that we found a mentally disabled man, straddling the border. He spends his days sitting under the shade of Indian trees, and then crosses over to Bismillah hotel in Bangladesh for scraps of food. He neither tells anyone his name, nor whether he is Bangladeshi or Indian. All that anybody can say about him is that one day two years ago, he turned up here.

The resemblance to the protagonist of Sadaat Hossain Manto's famous short story Toba Tek Singh is uncanny. The story, set in the Partition-era, revolves around the exchange of inmates of India and Pakistan's insane asylums. The Hindu and Sikh inmates were being sent to India, and the Muslims to Pakistan. The story follows one Sikh inmate who cared only about whether his homeland, a village called Toba Tek Singh, was in India or in Pakistan. In defiance, he fell dead on no-man's-land, and the story ends thus: "There, behind barbed wire, was Hindustan. Here, behind the same kind of barbed wire, was Pakistan. In between, on that piece of ground that had no name, lay Toba Tek Singh."

And just like that, this man, with no name, no citizenship and possibly no cognisance of concepts like nation-states, lives right on the Bangladesh-India border. All he understands -- and needs to understand -- is that Bangladesh gives him food, and India gives him shelter. So, he survives.

https://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/news/separated-yet-not-1871299

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BGB sends back 66 Indian trespassers in February

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:39, Mar 02,2020

The Border Guard Bangladesh handed over 66 Indians, who had been captured for illegally entering Bangladesh, to the Indian authorities in February.

The BGB in operations during the month detained 73 Indians and 54 Bangladeshis for entering the country without proper documents or approval in February, said a press release issued by the border security force on Sunday.

Among the Indians seven were handed over to police and the rest were sent back, said the release signed by BGB public relations officer Shariful Islam.   

Both Bangladesh and India said that they enjoyed warm relations but at least 10 Bangladeshis were killed in January.

At least 43 Bangladeshi citizens were killed by the Indian Border Security Force in 2019, a threefold increase from 14 in the previous year, according to data compiled by rights watchdog Ain O Salish Kendra.

The death toll was 24 in 2017, 31 in 2016, and 46 in 2015, according to ASK.

The BGB in the press release also said that 303 people were arrested in connection with crossborder smuggling.

The BGB seized 6.14 kilogram of gold, 101.75 kilogram of silver, 5,89,533 pieces of Yaba tablets and 40,494 bottles of Phensedyl during the month.

Eleven trucks, 4 pickup vans, 30 autorickshaws and 76 motorcycles were also seized during the period.

The border force also seized two pistols, a rifle, four guns and six cartridges.

 

https://www.newagebd.net/article/101031/bgb-sends-back-66-indian-trespassers-in-february

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BGB, BSF plan border cleaning to curb trespassing

Deepak Acharjee, Dhaka

The Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and the Border Security Force (BSF) of India are going to clean jungles, orchards and tea gardens on either side of the ‘no-man’s land’ on the Bangladesh-India border to curb cross-border terrorism. At the same time, the border forces of the two countries will stop cultivation of crops like jute, sugarcane, maize and banana in the bordering areas for the same purpose, a source in the home ministry and the BGB said.

This is being done as per the decision of the recent director-general (DG)-level talks between the BGB and BSF in New Delhi, the source added. “Since partition, at many places on the 'no-man’s land', there are localities, infrastructure, jungles, orchards and tea gardens, and people of the two countries have been maintaining these,” a senior official of the home ministry said.

“There are some tea gardens near the border in Sylhet and Panchaghar. In some areas in Brahmanbaria, Sylhet, Mymensingh and Netrokona, there are jungles, forests and orchards in the northern districts,” he said. “As per the decision of the DG-level meeting, the authorities concerned, especially the BGB and the BSF, will select and list the areas and then decide when and how to clean the areas to ensure border security,” he added.

“As per international border laws, no one can allow forest, jungle, tea garden or orchard, and also not cultivate crops like jute, sugarcane, maize and banana inside 150 yards of the ‘no-man’s land’,” the official added. Quoting the decision of the DG-level talks, the source said cross-border terrorism was not being curbed because there are such forests, jungles, tea gardens and orchards, and even cultivation of jute, sugarcane, maize and banana by farmers of either countries.

“And that’s why, the border forces of the two countries will create awareness among local farmers of the respective countries about not cultivating such crops inside the ‘no-man’s lands’,” according to the source. Bangladesh and India share a 4,156km-long border, the fifth-longest land border in the world, including 262km with Assam, 856km with Tripura, 180km with Mizoram, 443km with Meghalaya, and 2,217km with West Bengal.

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There is no international law that says forests and jungles cannot exist within 150 yards of the no man's land. I don't know where these people get such references. If they illegally clear forests and jungles it will cause ecological damage and the fact that several endangered species reside in the border areas of the two countries this is a very serious threat. Bangladesh and India are bound to protect the eco-system. The governments of the two countries should not do anything that is against the long term interests of the country. Human encroachment is the problem and not the forests themselves. 

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On 3/4/2020 at 7:07 PM, Syed Amar Khan said:

There is no international law that says forests and jungles cannot exist within 150 yards of the no man's land. I don't know where these people get such references. If they illegally clear forests and jungles it will cause ecological damage and the fact that several endangered species reside in the border areas of the two countries this is a very serious threat. Bangladesh and India are bound to protect the eco-system. The governments of the two countries should not do anything that is against the long term interests of the country. Human encroachment is the problem and not the forests themselves. 

This feels like a misstep by the authorities, instead of clearing out forests and vegetation from that area they should've cleared out the people living in those areas. Sort of like having a habitation free zone before the actual border. Will save a lot of trouble in the long run.

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On 5/4/2020 at 5:55 AM, Kamikaze said:

 

Sad to say we will never reach any agreements with India as much as our govt. tries. We will not be able to stop border killings, no agreement for Teesta will be reached and India forever will try to bully us as much as possible.

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23 hours ago, Darth Nihilus said:

Sad to say we will never reach any agreements with India as much as our govt. tries. We will not be able to stop border killings, no agreement for Teesta will be reached and India forever will try to bully us as much as possible.

Well this will continue for the foreseeable future. I do not think our leadership is strong enough to change the situation. Kothai sudhu amra boro.

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সাতক্ষীরা সীমান্তে বিজিবির টাওয়ার নির্মাণে বাধা

সাতক্ষীরার তলুইগাছা সীমান্তে বিজিবি পর্যবেক্ষণ টাওয়ার নির্মাণে বাধা দিয়েছে ভারতীয় বিএসএফ। শুক্রবার সকালে শ্রমিকরা যখন কাজ করছিলেন সে সময় বিএসএফ-এর আমুদিয়া ক্যাম্প সদস্যরা আপত্তি করে।

পরে বিজিবির তলুইগাছা ক্যাম্প কমান্ডার নায়েক সুবেদার আবদুস সবুরের সঙ্গে দ্বিপক্ষীয় অনানুষ্ঠানিক আলোচনা হয়। তিনি জানান, ১০০ ফুট উচ্চতার টাওয়ারটির নির্মাণ কাজ ৭৫ ফুট পর্যন্ত সম্পন্ন হয়েছে। অবশিষ্ট কাজ চলার সময় বিএসএফ বাধা দেয়। কিছুক্ষণের জন্য কাজ বন্ধ থাকলেও ফের তা শুরু হয়।

এ বিষয়ে জানতে চাইলে বিজিবির ৩৩ ব্যাটালিয়ন অধিনায়ক লে. কর্নেল গোলাম মহিউদ্দিন খন্দকার জানান, পর্যবেক্ষণ টাওয়ারটি বাংলাদেশের নিজস্ব ভূখণ্ডে। এতে বাধা দেয়ার আইনগত সুযোগ কারও নেই। টাওয়ার নির্মাণ কাজ অব্যাহত আছে।

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1 hour ago, Kamikaze said:

সাতক্ষীরা সীমান্তে বিজিবির টাওয়ার নির্মাণে বাধা

সাতক্ষীরার তলুইগাছা সীমান্তে বিজিবি পর্যবেক্ষণ টাওয়ার নির্মাণে বাধা দিয়েছে ভারতীয় বিএসএফ। শুক্রবার সকালে শ্রমিকরা যখন কাজ করছিলেন সে সময় বিএসএফ-এর আমুদিয়া ক্যাম্প সদস্যরা আপত্তি করে।

পরে বিজিবির তলুইগাছা ক্যাম্প কমান্ডার নায়েক সুবেদার আবদুস সবুরের সঙ্গে দ্বিপক্ষীয় অনানুষ্ঠানিক আলোচনা হয়। তিনি জানান, ১০০ ফুট উচ্চতার টাওয়ারটির নির্মাণ কাজ ৭৫ ফুট পর্যন্ত সম্পন্ন হয়েছে। অবশিষ্ট কাজ চলার সময় বিএসএফ বাধা দেয়। কিছুক্ষণের জন্য কাজ বন্ধ থাকলেও ফের তা শুরু হয়।

এ বিষয়ে জানতে চাইলে বিজিবির ৩৩ ব্যাটালিয়ন অধিনায়ক লে. কর্নেল গোলাম মহিউদ্দিন খন্দকার জানান, পর্যবেক্ষণ টাওয়ারটি বাংলাদেশের নিজস্ব ভূখণ্ডে। এতে বাধা দেয়ার আইনগত সুযোগ কারও নেই। টাওয়ার নির্মাণ কাজ অব্যাহত আছে।

Whats wrong with these BSF? Creating unnecessary problems at the boarder for the last few months. Maybe their wine supply has stopped resulting in these type of behavior. 

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07:53 PM, July 10, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:36 PM, July 10, 2020

BGB officially protests Anandabazar report on ‘Bangladeshis stepping into unprotected land’

Star Online Report

anandabazar_0.jpg?itok=46ciKP0N&c=2028a8

A screenshot of the report by Indian newspaper Anandabazar.

 

The Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) has officially protested a news published in the Indian newspaper Anandabazar on July 7, under the headline "Bangladeshis stepping into unprotected land".

A statement signed by BGB Public Relation Officer Md Shariful Islam said the news published in Anandabazar was "baseless, fabricated and motivated".

The BGB statement reads: "The newspaper mentioned the Raninagar border as the place of the incident but in fact, no incident happened there. The area is under the jurisdiction of Rajshahi BGB and it extends from Charghat BOP (Border Outpost) to Talaimari BOP. The zero line crosses along the river Padma and there are vast chars on both sides."

In the protest letter, the BGB said, "The news says that Bangladeshis are cultivating freely in Raninagar 1 and 2 blocks of the border and about 22,000 acres of unprotected land across Jalangi.

"In this context, the real picture is completely different. Far from cultivating inside India, it is now almost impossible to cultivate along international borders. BGB members are patrolling the border day and night along the zero line," it said.

The news report further said that Border Security Force of India detained two Bangladeshis after they crossed the border into Indian territory. Subsequently, Bangladeshi miscreants abducted two villagers from the Raninagar border village as ransom.

"But, the reality is quite the opposite and the published news is motivated," said BGB.

On July 2, two incidents took place at the Jalangi border, which contradicted the report published by the newspaper, reads the statement.

BGB said that two residents of Jalangi border—Nayan Sheikh and Shahidul Sheikh—illegally crossed the international border around 11:30am on July 2. They trespassed into Yousufpur village inside Bangladesh territory over narcotics dealing and financial transaction.

"Locals did not take the matter lightly and surrounded them. Subsequently, the Yusufpur BGB camp took the two Indians into their custody out of concern for their safety," BGB said.

On the other hand, around 12:00 noon on the same day, the BSF patrol team illegally crossed the international border and entered 300 metres inside Bangladesh (along Pillar 72/4-S) and captured three innocent farmers from Yusufpur area who were returning home after cultivating in the char area, reads the BGB statement.

"A BGB-BSF flag meeting was held on the same day in the aftermath of both the incidents. Later, on July 3, the matter was settled amicably through peaceful transfer of citizens of both the countries," BGB said in their statement.

The BGB further said, "The hostile relations of BSF with local people in the Muslim-dominated areas, the inability of the local cattle smugglers to do any work in this season, toll collection from the fishermen by BSF and above all, to cover up the failure of the local BSF battalion, the news may have been provided by a quarter with vested interest in India to the media."

 

https://www.thedailystar.net/country/news/bgb-officially-protests-anandabazar-report-bangladeshis-stepping-unprotected-land-1928169

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