Stop border killings, Khaleda Zia tells India


Dhaka : Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia Friday urged India to end incidents of shooting on the international boundary by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF), and said people along the border “do not feel secure”.

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She told visiting Indian Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the country’s main opposition, believed that “India needs to resolve the outstanding issues with Bangladesh for sustained, improved relations,” reported.

Zia’s advisor Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury quoted her as telling Ansari that the people along the Indian borders do not feel secure. Confidence will grow among the public if ways are reached for thrashing out amicable solutions to the issues.

Khaleda also stressed need for reducing trade deficit, resolving water-sharing issue and allowing viewing of Bangladeshi TV channels in India.

India’s claim that 40 percent of those killed while illegally crossing the border with Bangladesh are Indian nationals was Friday doubted by a leading Bangladeshi newspaper that accused New Delhi of “lack of seriousness” in tackling the issue.

The Daily Star in an editorial wondered from where Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao got the figure that 40 percent of those killed were Indians.

“We are not quite sure how this figure has been arrived at. Even so, it raises the disturbing spectre of a border force, India’s (Border Security Force), inclined to be trigger-happy,” the newspaper said.

The debate on the sensitive issue between the South Asian neighbours was revived during the two-day visit of Hamid Ansari. This is the highest level visit by an Indian dignitary in the last two years and is perceived as part of the preparations for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit here later this year.

“For us in Bangladesh, all this talk of joint efforts to contain the problem is something we have heard earlier as well. There have been assurances aplenty on the need to tackle the issue,” the newspaper said.

Dhaka alleges that the BSF has killed over a thousand people in last one decade. The BSF says its men fire “in self defence” as many crossing the border in early hours – smuggling goods, cattle, arms and drugs – are armed.

The Star editorial said: “Such attitudes have only revealed an absence of seriousness on the part of those concerned about the issue. In turn, there has been a lack of willingness to deal head-on with the problem.”

“All said and done, though, it is the expectation that Rao’s sentiments will mark the beginning of a fresh new approach to the border killing issue. Let Bangladesh and India get down to serious talks, for shooting people dead on the border raises the question of human rights as well,” the newspaper observed.