New Delhi: In a novel proposal of its kind, the Border Security Force (BSF) has invited its Bangladeshi counterpart to patrol the border from its territory even as it has decided to introduce a fresh lot of non-lethal weapons on this frontier as part of new measures to bring down civilian and security forces casualties.
Concerned over the menace of illegal crossings and cattle smuggling which has led to the death and serious injuries to its bordermen and local population, the BSF discussed these initiatives with the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) during the recent Director General (DG) level talks in Dhaka last month.
"We have proposed to the BGB to send their team to patrol with our boys on our side and see the facts on ground. We have nothing to hide. The illegal crossings and activities that occur in the dead of night are a challenge for us."
The challenge is tough and we are committed to maintaining the sanctity of this border and hence we have gone the extra mile in suggesting such a step," BSF chief Subhash Joshi told a news agency.
Joshi, who led the delegation for the bi-annual talks, said it has been decided to introduce more non-lethal weapons and pump action guns on this border to reduce the casualties.
"It is a difficult situation when we decide to arm our men with non-lethal weapons...We have taken a lot of hits. Three dozen of our troopers have been injured as they were attacked by smugglers in the recent past. But we are committed to reducing casualties on the Bangla border and hence more such weapons are being sent there," the Director General of the second largest paramilitary force of the country said.
"We have also decided to work for better procedures for use of the non-lethal weapons," he said.
The DG gives the proof of killings and critical injuries going down because of non-lethal guns.
"There were 150 killings three years back, this was reduced to 22 in the last year and this year only seven killings have taken place on this border and in our jurisdiction," he said.
"This proves our commitment, our resolve and our determination that we want the civilians on the border and the local population safe," he said.
The BSF chief, however, expressed his firmness in protecting his men and officers deployed on this frontier.
"We have increased the strength of patrol parties at vulnerable spots. There are more people in the team...They also carry regular weapons apart from non-lethal ones and they have been asked to respond to any challenge according to threat keeping restraint in mind," he said.
The two forces, during the meeting last month, have also decided to increase the on-ground coordination between field commanders, the DG said.
Joshi said new dates are being worked out for the unveiling of the first `Wagah on the East` at the Petrapole-Benapole border in West Bengal after the last schedule of October 2 had to be postponed because of inclement weather.