Vol. 5 Num 318 Tue. April 19, 2005  
Front Page

Dhaka denounces 'unprovoked' attack by BSF

Bangladesh yesterday categorically condemned the "willful and unprovoked attack" by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India near Akhaura border on Saturday last.

The government of Bangladesh, however, reaffirmed its commitment to maintain peace and tranquillity in the frontier areas by resolving all bilateral issues peacefully through dialogue.

"It is clear that the BSF forces deliberately intruded into Bangladesh territory and opened fire, leaving a Bangladeshi girl dead," said a foreign ministry spokesman when asked to comment on the incident.

Pointing out facts of the incident, the spokesperson stated that the trouble started at around 5:30pm when the BSF men and armed Indian civilians illegally entered Bangladesh territory and attacked the residents of Nurpur village, ransacked property, looted valuables and tried to abduct Bangladeshi villagers.

"The villagers alerted a BDR patrol that went to the spot. When the BDR patrols approached the village, the BSF personnel took position on the ground and opened fire on the patrols and villagers. As a result, a ten-year-old Bangladeshi girl was struck by bullet and died on the spot," he said.

The Indian Border Security Force also mobilised troops on the border at the time.

"The BDR had no option but to open fire in self-defence," he said, adding, "Although the BDR exercised maximum restraint, the BSF continued to fire on the BDR men for some time."

After firing had stopped, two BSF personnel - one officer and one soldier were found dead 250 yards inside Bangladesh territory near the village. "It was difficult to identify the officer, as he was not wearing uniform. He was later identified as Jeevan Kumar, assistant commandant of the BSF."

The two were handed over to the BSF at 00:01 hrs on April 17 through a Battalion Commandant-level meeting.

The spokesperson termed the incident "unfortunate and regrettable". He noted that the incident occurred despite Bangladesh's sincere efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity along the international border and the agreement at the just- concluded BDR-BSF talks that both the border forces would show maximum restraint.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan yesterday hoped that the coordinated border patrol would help defuse tensions and reduce the trans-border crimes substantially.

"Since we've a long 4002-km porous border with India, many incidents can take place. But this is quite unnatural to think that such incidents will affect our good relations," he told reporters commenting on the BDR-BSF exchange of fire on Akhaura frontier on Saturday that left several casualties on both sides, including a Bangladeshi girl.

Expressing the hope that such incidents would not recur, the foreign minister said the BDR and BSF would take joint effort to maintain peace along the border between the two neighbours.

The BDR-BSF director general-level meeting that concluded in Dhaka on April 16 decided to take necessary steps to start the joint patrolling. The decision was first taken at a home secretary-level meeting in Dhaka last year.

He said the BSF members entered Bangladesh territory and attacked the residents of Nurpur village in Brahmanbaria. As the BDR personnel approached the village, the BSF opened fire, resulting in the death of a girl.

The situation was controlled through flag meeting between the two border forces.

Our B'baria correspondent reported that Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) personnel yesterday recovered one rifle, one magazine with 18 bullets and a wireless set from Hirapur village under Akhaura upazila.

BDR sources said the BSF men left these while fleeing the village during Saturday's clash.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday said India was worried over Bangladesh's territory being used to encourage insurgency in the northeastern Indian states.

"India has given credible evidence of this to Bangladesh," he said adding, "I hope we can work together to deal with the problem."

"Otherwise, our relations with Bangladesh are good," Singh told a select group of Indian editors at his residence, our New Delhi Correspondent Pallab Bhattacharya reports.

The Indian prime minister stressed that the destinies of all the countries in this subcontinent are closely linked. He made the remark when asked a question about Indo-Bangla relations.