Bangladesh to raise 19 new border guards battalions

Bangladesh will raise 19 new battalions over the next five years to guard its porous borders with India and Myanmar.

Dhaka: Bangladesh will raise 19 new
battalions over the next five years to guard its porous
borders with India and Myanmar, the chief of the country`s
paramilitary frontier force said here on Tuesday.

"We will raise the battalions in phases in next five
years alongside creating four regional headquarters as a new
tier in the structure of the frontier force and four new
sectors under a massive reconstruction plan for Border Guard
Bangladesh (BGB)," Major General Rafiqul Islam told PTI in an

The paramilitary force, known as Bangladesh Rifles
till last month, is now known as Border Guard Bangladesh.

The border force is undergoing a massive overhaul with
its name, laws, uniform and monogram all changed to give it a
new look in the aftermath of the 2009 mutiny in which 57
officers were killed.

Islam said the regional headquarters of the force
would be set up at northeastern Sarail, southeastern
Chittagong, western Jessore and northwestern Naogaon.

The BGB chief said additional manpower would enable
the paramilitary frontier force to reduce the existing gaps in
its frontier outposts from 10 kilometres to five kilometers
while borders guards would also be equipped with motorbikes to
patrol the frontlines.

Currently the BGB has 46 battalions but the force was
hit by a major crisis after some 6,000 soldiers were accused
of mutiny charges. This also necessitated recruitments and
restructuring of the frontier force.

BGB officials familiar with the rebuilding process
said the frontier force would also construct observation
towers to keep a vigil on the borders and a process was
underway to procure 17,000 motorbikes for the border guards.

The initiatives to overhaul the force are aimed at
freeing it of the stigma of the February, 2009 mutiny when 74
people, including 57 army officers serving the paramilitary
force were killed at its Pilkhana headquarters in Dhaka.

Several hundred accused border guards have already
been jailed for up to seven years under the relatively lenient
BDR Act of the frontier guards.

Around 800 "core culprits" of the mutiny are set to be
put on trial on March 5 on charges of involvement in killings,
lootings, hostage-taking and torturing army officers and their
family members during the rebellion.

The newly-enacted BGB Act has prescribed death penalty
for such a mutiny. The new Act has also laid down a provision
for qualified soldiers to be given a chance to join the army
as commissioned officers with due recruitment procedures.

"Every force of the country will have to abide by
their laws to evade any unfortunate event in future... I
believe you clearly understand from the core of your heart
what damage could be caused if it is violated," Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina said last month as the BDR was formally renamed
as BGM at a ceremony at Pilkhana, the scene of the carnage.