A two-day District Magistrate-cum-Collector level India-Bangladesh joint border conference concluded in Agartala on February 3. India was represented by officials of Tripura government, while Bangladesh was represented by a team of Deputy Commissioners-cum Magistrates. On conclusion of the talks, two sides signed an agreement on real time information sharing to curb cross-border crimes.
A wide range of issues including trans-border crimes, smuggling, gun running along border, insurgent movement, narcotics, human trafficking and cattle lifting came up for discussions between officials of the two countries. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the talks and said that the talks not only helped in mutually sorting disputes at grass roots level but also played a part in confidence building between New Delhi and Dhaka.
After the discussions, India and Bangladesh signed an agreement on real-time information sharing to curb all cross-border crimes.
A 25-member delegation from Bangladesh including District Commissioners-cum Magistrates, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) officials and senior police officials of four bordering districts – Brahmanbaria, Maulavi Bazar, Rangamati and Habiganj – attended the crucial border talks leading to signing of the agreement. Deputy Commissioners-cum Magistrates, SPs, and Commandants of BSF of six bordering districts of Tripura – West Tripura, Unokothi, North Tripura, Khowai, Dhalai and Sepahijala – attended the conference. The issues related to four districts of Bangladesh and Tripura were tabled on the last day of the talks. Tripura which is surrounded by Bangladesh on three sides has 875 km long border with the latter, and therefore border disputes are very common.
Officials of both sides agreed that frequent dialogues should take place at regular intervals as it helped in better coordination and improving ties. “I am sure whatever decisions we have taken collectively in two days we are going to implement and I hope we would take the relationship with Bangladesh to a higher level”, said West Tripura District Magistrate and Collector Abhishekh Singh. He further said that “Most of the north eastern states share border with Bangladesh and we have seen over the years that there are small issues in the border districts that require local level intervention. Accordingly, the two governments decided to organize meetings at the DM and DC level to resolve these small issues. Every six months these meetings will take place”.
Md Shamsul Arefin, DC, Rangamati said that the BGB is building more border outposts (BOPs) in Rangamati on the request of BSF of India. “We have come to India to discuss issues that concern us and to build our mutual relations. We believe that all problems can be sorted out through discussions. We have exchanged our phone numbers and E-mail IDs. We shall exchange information that helps us to take action against criminals without wasting time. Earlier the process was lengthy, but now through fast exchange of information between DMs, DCs, BGB, BSF and police, it will help to reduce crime. We have taken initiatives to build more BOPs to have more access”.
Mohammad Kamrul Hasan, DC Maulavi Bazar said “The discussions were very helpful and we discussed about border issues like drug trafficking, smuggling, gun running and patrolling in the conference and we have taken some decisions to resolve these problems at our level. Between BSF and BGB flag meetings take place frequently, but this type of meetings helps to build more ties and confidence”.
“We have taken some decision, which is to be resolved at our level and which is to be taken to higher authorities. I am very grateful and thankful to the government of India”, Hasan further added.
India and Bangladesh had decided to hold district magistrate-level meetings to resolve all border issues amicably through talks.
Earlier, District Magistrates and other district level officials of four districts of Tripura – Sipahijala, Gomti, Dhalai and South Tripura – met in Agartala (January 9-10) with the Deputy Commissioners of five districts of Bangladesh – Comilla, Feni, Ragamati, Khagrachari and Chittagong. They discussed various issues including border crimes, sharing waters of common rivers, setting up of more border haat (weekly market), border fencing and better coordination between district administrations of the two countries.
India is erecting a barbed wire fence and putting up flood lights along 4,096 km India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Assam (263 km), Meghalaya (443 km) and Mizoram (318 km) to check trans border movements of militants, gun running and curb border crimes.
Inaccessible and mountainous terrain, dense forests and other hindrances make the unfenced borders between India’s north eastern states and Bangladesh porous and vulnerable, letting illegal immigrants and intruders cross over without any hurdle.
Similar conferences would also be held in the north eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya in coming days to sort out and settle the border issues.
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