New Delhi: The Border Security Force on Thursday said cattle smuggling instances along the Indo-Bangla border have declined "significantly" due to special clampdown measures undertaken and it has now joined hands with neighbour's forces to further bring down these illegal activities.
Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), the frontier force of the neighbouring country, said they see the development as a "good opportunity" for them to become self-reliant in rearing their own livestock.
A visiting delegation of the BGB today wrapped up their four-day bi-annual Director General-level talks with their counterparts Border Security Force here after thrashing out issues posing challenges at the over 4,096-km porous border the two countries share.
During a media interaction by the two force chiefs here, BSF director general DK Pathak said he was making a "bold claim" to state that cattle smuggling at this frontier has declined significantly, from 20 lakh cattle heads last year to only about four lakh till June this year.
When asked about the impact of this development, BGB DG Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed welcomed the Indian initiative.
"It is a good opportunity for us because Bangladesh once upon a time used to import a lot of rice and other things but now we have become self-sufficient and we even export it now.”
"I think our farmers should take this opportunity to have their own cattle farming so that we don't need to depend on others and we are encouraging our people," he said.
The BSF has undertaken some special and innovative measures to curb cattle smuggling especially after Home Minister Rajnath Singh urged the force, during its Raising Day in 2014 and while on a visit to a forward location on the border this year, to effectively check this menace.
BSF chief Pathak said both the forces have devised mechanisms to check cattle smuggling during night and have firmed up coordinated action in this regard at the close of the talks.
He said both the forces have identified "vulnerable" areas for cattle smuggling along the border and have resolved to conduct joint patrols.
Replying to another question on illegal migration from Bangladesh to India, Maj Gen Ahmed said while he acknowledges that there could be some "inadvertent" cases of crossing over, he would "beg to differ" in believing that any large scale migration was taking place along this frontier on India's eastern flank. The BGB chief said as economic parameters of his country
have improved over the times and Bangladesh was now a "middle (rank) developing" country, he did not think there was any "good reason" for his people to migrate to India.
He said Bangladesh's economic development indicators were going up and while he thinks there could be some "inadvertent" crossing overs for a short time, may be to meet relatives or for getting better medical care across the border, he would "beg to differ" on the instances of migration.
The BSF chief added while they cannot exactly say how many people were crossing over illegally, the "figures have been constantly increasing".
"Both the sides in cooperation with each other are apprehending illegal crossers," Pathak said.
He added that while the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) has not brought much challenges for the two forces as there was "no confusion" over the demarcation of the border, the historic accord will certainly improve various aspects of border management on both the sides.
The BGB said it has expressed its concerns to the BSF over killings on the border and desires to bring it down to an absolute zero. It complimented the Indian force for effectively curbing smuggling of narcotics along the border.
BSF said it was maintaining "absolute restraint" in using lethal firepower and in fact, was largely depending on non-lethal weapons to keep a vigil on this frontier.
On the issue of fake Indian currency being pushed into India from across the border, Ahmed said while he was sure this was not being "produced" in his country there may be instances where vested groups were using Bangladesh's land for "transit" in this regard.
The BGB DG said his country will effectively check and curb this menace.
He reiterated the commitment made by his country that Bangladeshi soil will not be allowed to be used against India as he acknowledged that BSF handed them over names of some Indian insurgent groups reportedly operating from the neighbouring country.
"We will not allow any criminal elements to use our ground against any of our neighbours, especially India," he said.
Both the sides said the talks were conducted in an atmosphere of extreme cooperation.
BSF DG Pathak said the issue of the killing of a Bangladeshi girl Felani Khatun allegedly by a force personnel in 2011 did not crop up during the meeting.
"The final report in this case is yet to come up," he said.