Bangladesh: Border with Myanmar to be fenced

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Against the backdrop of the huge influx of Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh is planning to fence the border with Myanmar.

Against the backdrop of the huge influx of Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh is planning to fence the border with Myanmar.

Maj Gen Abul Hossain, director general of the Border Guard Bangladesh, made the comment during a joint media conference with the Indian Border Security Force at a BSF camp on the outskirts of New Delhi yesterday.

The two border forces concluded their four-day biannual DG-level talks yesterday, during which several issues like the influx of Rohingyas, smuggling of cattle, drug and fake currency were discussed.

Hossain said five lakh Rohingyas have already entered Bangladesh. “The problem has been created by Myanmar, but it's a problem for our country as well... they [Rohingyas] cannot spread all over the country.”

“Our government has taken a decision and the Rohingyas have been restricted to Cox's Bazar,” he said, adding that they identified the exit and entry points (of Rohingyas) which were being guarded properly.

The BGB chief said the mandatory registration of all Rohingyas has already begun and those without registration will not be provided with any facilities.

He said they assured the BSF that the Bangladesh government's policy was very clear -- not allowing the country's soil to be used for any terrorist activity.

BSF chief KK Sharma said 140 vulnerable spots have been identified along the 4,096-km India-Bangladesh border from where Rohingya refugees could cross over to India. “We have chalked out a detailed plan to keep a vigil on the spill-over effect of Rohingyas crossing over to India.”

The security at these spots has been stepped up through deployment of more manpower and technological inputs and gadgets diverted from other posts, he said.

Sharma said the BSF, with the help of intelligence agencies, has also launched a campaign to identify and take action against touts who could help Rohingyas enter India.

According to the BSF DG, India and Bangladesh will undertake a project to repair and maintain damaged pillars along the border. The two border guarding forces would take care of the pillars on an “odd-even number basis”, he added.

“We have been maintaining [border] pillars on the Pakistan side. We proposed to the government and the Ministry of External Affairs that we would want to do that on Bangladesh side as well because the Indian states' PWDs, which were given the task of maintaining the pillars, were not doing a very good job.

“Consequently, the federal government with the concurrence of state governments has agreed to give this work to us and taking this as an example, the Border Guard Bangladesh has asked their home ministry to give this task to them,” Sharma said.

He said the BGB has got an "in-principle approval" for conducting the task.

“We will maintain one [pillar] and the other one will be maintained by the BGB. Because of lack of maintenance, they are not in good condition,” he told the media conference.

It was not immediately known how many border pillars were there along the India-Bangladesh border.

The BSF chief said the work to erect a single-row fence in many places along the border was progressing well and that they were awaiting approval from the Bangladesh government for installing the fence at the remaining few locations.

The new fencing is aimed at securing over 250 villages that fall between the International Border and a barbed wire fencing 150 metres away.

“It will stop criminal activities on both the sides [of the border],” Sharma said.

A senior official said other issues like prevention of trans-border crimes and smuggling of cattle were also taken up by the BSF during the meeting with the BGB.

The BGB took up the issue of killing of Bangladeshis by BSF, apart from the issue of narcotics smuggling, he said.


No photos has been attached.