B’desh, India agree to sort out all border problems soon


New Delhi : 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.

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Bangladesh Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikdar, who held a crucial two-day talks with his Indian counterpart Gopal K Pillai, in Dhaka, said all border and security related issues were discussed in the meeting and both of 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, pti reported.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the end of Home Secretary-level talks on Friday, 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 everyday.

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 7th January 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 armymen 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 on Thursday after a joint secretary level joint working group meeting.

At a joint working group meeting on Thursday, 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.