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Spike in cross border smuggling, trafficking, killings despite Modi-Hasina positive posture

By Kirity Roy* 

On the four-day India tour undertaken by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since 5th September, 2022, both the countries have entered into many bilateral agreements and signed MoUs in that regard. On 7th September, 2022, a joint statement was released by both the Prime Ministers, where both of them expressed satisfaction on the matter that the number of killings at the Indo-Bangladesh border has been reduced significantly.
They have also praised the border guards of both the countries for their efforts to stop smuggling and trafficking across the border. However, the Prime Ministers agreed that there’s still something to do on the matter to bring down the number of border killings to zero.
It is ironical that a few hours after the release of the joint statement, Minarul Islam, a minor Bangladeshi school student, was shot dead at the Dainur border of South Dinajpur district by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF).
As per our estimate the number of killings by the border guards at the Indo-Bangladesh border has drastically increased in this decade. Reports state that the killings have increased from 150 per year in the past decade to almost 200 per year in this decade.
The Monmohan Singh government in July 2011 had made an effort to reduce border killings by introducing non-lethal weapons to the BSF at the Indo-Bangladesh border. 
However, as soon as the Modi government came into power in 2014, the decision was reverted back to the usage of lethal weapons by the BSF, which resulted in rampant killings at this border.
The border guards, who are being praised by the Prime Ministers for their efforts to curb smuggling, are in turn the perpetrators who are facilitating cross border movements across the border.
Without border guards of both the countries aiding movement, cross border smuggling couldn’t have been possible
It has been proved time and again that without the border guards of both the countries aiding the cross border movements, narcotics and cattle smuggling couldn’t have been possible at the Indo-Bangladesh border. There are corrupt officers in the forces of both the countries who facilitate such illegal trade across the border.
Moreover, the kingpins of the robust syndicate that controls cattle and narcotics smuggling across the border are unnoticed and the marginalized rattlers, who lean on smuggling for a few amount of cash, are being killed.
However, praising the border guards’ actions by the Prime Ministers either reflects their naivety on the issue or their political intention to subdue the illegal actions of the forces of these two neighbouring countries.
The political intent of the governments that has been reflected through this statement seeks to conceal facts, propagate false information and non-cognizance of the sufferings of the border populace. The exact number of killings along the Indo-Bangladesh border should come to light and the guilty border guards should be tried under law for their trigger-happy attitude.
If the true intent of the governments of both the countries is to stop killings at the border, then their actions should start with ending impunity within the countries by taking punitive actions against the guilty personnel.
---
*Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM); national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly

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