Bangladesh restricts night-time movement in frontiers

Dhaka has enforced a check on people`s movement along its borders with India.

Updated: May 17, 2010, 12:15 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh has enforced a restriction on movement of people along its borders with India to avert frequent incidents of killings of its nationals in cross-border shootouts.

"The order was conveyed to the administrative authorities of the frontier districts and the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR)" after the decision was taken in an inter-ministerial meeting with Home Minister Sahara Khatun in the chair, a spokesman of the ministry said.

He said that the local administrations were also asked to launch a motivational campaign engaging representatives from local communities to dissuade people from moving along the borders at night.

Rights group Odhikar in a recent report had said that a total of 910 Bangladeshis were killed between January 2000 and April 2010 in cross border firings, and Dhaka had raised the issue during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s India trip in January this year.

The spokesman said Khatun told the meeting that Dhaka would again ask New Delhi to take steps to stop the incidents "which takes place time and again" and had continued despite repeated assurances by Indian authorities.

According to newspaper reports, in a latest incident two Bangladeshis were killed and three others were wounded due to firing by the Border Security Force (BSF) at northwestern Thakurgaon borders on Friday.

Officials said India had also restricted night-time movement on its side of the border to evade cross-border casualties in shootouts.

The frontier shootout dominated the talks at the BDR-BSF director general meeting in New Delhi in March this year.

The then BDR chief Major General Mainul Islam said that the "earlier Indian assurance to stop it during our talks (in Dhaka in July 2009) was not reflected in their actions in the past months" when a number of Bangladeshis lost their lives.

Meanwhile, BSF chief ML Kumawat said: "We are trying to drastically reduce the incidents of such killings in the frontiers".

He, however, added that most of the cross-border killings usually take place at the "dark of night" when BSF enforces a nightlong curfew on their side of the frontier to check cross-border crimes. Kumawat added that Indian nationals too were often killed in BSF shootouts but in most of the cases they were found to be "smugglers or terrorists" who tried to defy the curfew and trespass borders.

He said only 15 percent of such casualties took place during day time but such cases were extensively investigated both by Indian police and BSF and "we have told our counterparts how many BSF men faced stern actions for any such intentional killing".

Islam at that time agreed with his counterpart and said the frontier Bangladeshi nationals were needed to be "more careful" in their movement in the frontline.