India, Bangladesh security forces exchange fire in Meghalaya


THE TIME OF INDIA

SHILLONG: The Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) on Sunday traded gunfire in Muktapur sector along the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya, officials here said.

The incident of firing, the fourth within a fortnight, started around 1:45pm and lasted for nearly half an hour, Prithvi Raj, Inspector of the BSF in Assam-Meghalaya, told IANS.

He said the BDR had resorted to fresh “unprovoked firing” to scare away Indian villagers engaged in fishing in a swamp area in Birkympleng in Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district.

Muktapur is about 20 km east of Pyrdiwah village, which was occupied by the BDR in 2001 for days, claiming it to be a part of Bangladesh, before they were forced to retreat.

On Feb 4 and Feb 14, BDR troops fired at the BSF along the India-Bangladesh border at Muktapur. Earlier, some BDR personnel intruded into India. One was detained but was handed over to the BDR after a flag meeting.

In the just concluded BSF-BDR border conference in New Delhi, BSF chief Raman Srivastava had raised serious concern over intermittent firing by BDR forces along the border in Meghalaya.

Major-General Mainul Islam, director general of the BDR, however, said: “We (India and Bangladesh) should not be upset with such issues (firing).”

Meanwhile, panic-striken border villagers in Meghalaya have shifted to safer grounds following Sunday’s gunfire.

“The situation is tense. Most of the people, especially women and children, have moved to safer grounds after the gunfire,” Manoj Manar, Muktapur village chief said.

On Friday, Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram decided to send Joint Secretary in Home Affairs Sada Khan to assess the situation in Muktapur after Meghalaya Revenue Minister R.C. Laloo apprised him of the tension along the border.

Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.

According to official records, 551.8 acres of Bangladeshi land is in possession of India, while 226.81 acres of Indian land is in possession of Bangladesh. All these areas are disputed.

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