The Indian Border Security Force (BSF) is facing a lot of challenges along Indo-BD border due to incidents of smuggling, fence breaches and attacks on BSF duty personnel by miscreants/cattle syndicates of both the countries.
The border which is filled with rivers/water bodies, char lands and thickly populated border areas almost up to the zero line increases the vulnerability of BSF but helps the smugglers/miscreants to carry out their activities along the border. There are about 68 smuggling corridors and 149 sensitive villages on the West Bengal border alone.
BSF is often criticized for the extra-judicial killings of Bangladeshis along the borders but while doing so it must be remembered that BSF is compelled to open fire in self defense because the group of smugglers always try making forceful entry and are armed with arms/ammunitions and crude bombs.
Since 2010 there have been 1898 cases of lethal attacks on BSF personnel by Bangladeshi smugglers/criminals. In between 2010 to 2019 the figure for grievously injured BSF officials is 960 and 11 BSF soldiers have lost their lives in attacks by Bangladeshi smugglers.
On 1st April 2020 a patrolling party of border guarding force came under violent attack by a cross-border smuggling gang near BP number 379/2-R inside the Indian Territory, by drug peddlers who were trying to smuggle loads of Phensedyl from the Indian side of the border into Bangladesh. The incident happened around 8:50 pm along the Bangladesh-India border in area of operation of BOP Chaklagarh, 171 Battalion of Border Security Force. The smugglers defied the caution sounded by the patrolling troops and damaged the fencing on the border. Left with no option and in self-defense, the patrolling party had to fire at smugglers. Upon firing, the cross-border smugglers fled towards Bangladesh leaving one smuggler who sustained a gunshot injury and succumbed to the injury on the spot. He was later identified as a resident of Samirnagar village in Baliadangi upazila under Thakurgaon district of Bangladesh.
The sixth Director General level meeting between the Department of Narcotics Control of Bangladesh and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India held in October last year in Dhaka had decided to take stringent action against the cross-border smugglers involved in smuggling of Phensedyl syrup and other illicit products from India to Bangladesh.
Recently on 5th April 2020 also there was an attack by Bangladeshi miscreants on a BSF patrolling party in the area of BOP Masalbari, District Dhubri in which head Constable S.K Sharma got seriously injured. However the group of about 15-20 miscreants managed to escape back to Bangladesh, by taking advantage of the darkness and thick vegetation.
The Bangladeshi press and even foreign media houses have relentlessly been criticizing the BSF for use of excessive force while dealing with smugglers/criminals on the borders but they fail to mention that, while dealing with the ever increasing smuggling/criminal activities and frequent violent clashes with the smugglers, the BSF officials also have to put their lives in line, for defending the Indian border against all the hardships.
The only way for minimizing such incidents, is increased border cooperation between the Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) and BSF forces.