B`desh-India agree to sort out all border problems soon

Bangladesh and India agreed to sort out all problems related to the common border within the next two months, ahead of the planned visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the country later this year.

Updated: Jan 20, 2011, 21:59 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh and India on Thursday agreed
to sort out all problems related to the common border within
the next two months, ahead of the planned visit by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh to the country later this year.

Bangladesh Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikdar, who
held crucial two-day talks with his Indian counterpart Gopal
K Pillai, said all border and security related issues were
discussed in the meeting and both the sides are working
sincerely to resolve the ongoing problems in shortest possible
time.

The two top officials discussed counterfeit Indian
currency being pushed across the border, activities of
extremists and terrorists, insurgency, human trafficking,
repatriation of prisoners, border fencing, immigration issues
and follow up of Joint Boundary working Group meeting.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the end of
Home Secretary-level talks today, they expressed the hope that
all issues related to the common border would be completed
within one or two months, ahead of the planned Dhaka visit of
Indian Prime Minister later this year.

Asked about measures to ease the Indian visa regime,
Pillai said that with the installation of online visa
processing, the process has been speeded up in recent period,
with 1,500 to 2,000 Bangladeshi applicants getting the
official travel permit every day.

He promised to further ease visa processing,
particularly for Bangladeshis seeking medical treatment in
India.

Officials familiar with the meeting said casualties in
cross-border firings dominated the talks between the top
officials.

With regard to the controversy of people being killed
in cross-border firings, Pillai said New Delhi was "not
comfortable" with the deaths of Bangladeshis.

However, he said casualty figures had declined in the
past 12 months when compared to the previous year. Pillai said
the death figure has come down to 31 in 2010 and even then we
do not feel comfortable with this 31 deaths."

"We are still committed to zero death on frontiers,
he said.

Pillai said 63 BSF men were injured in combating the
criminal elements along the frontiers in 2010 while he
sought the help of Bangladeshi residents and BDR, which is set
to be renamed soon as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), in
halting the illegal movement of people at night along the
border.

India has asked Bangladesh to "sensitise" its people
to follow legal routes for crossing their porous frontier.

The Indian Home Secretary reiterated New Delhi’s
regret for the killing of 15-year-old girl Felani in Kurigram
border on January 7 and said a court of inquiry was underway
to punish those responsible for it. Bangladesh also sought India`s help to track down two
former army men who have been convicted for the killing of
Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman, allegedly hiding in India, as New
Delhi pressed for "more information" to nab the fugitives.

"We have information that two of the convicted killers
of Bangabandhu former Captain Majed and former Risaldar
Moslehuddin were hiding somewhere in India to evade their
death penalties," Sobhan said.

"We have sought Indian cooperation to track them down
and return them to Bangladesh," he said.

The home secretary level meeting began yesterday
after a joint secretary level joint working group meeting.

At a joint working group meeting yesterday,
Bangladeshi officials called for "maximum restraint and
requested that the killings must stop" along the 4,095-km
border, which has witnessed several incidents.

They underlined the need to further strengthening of
interaction between the authorities of the two countries in
dealing with security-related matters for mutual benefit.

PTI