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Indian border chief’s remarks draw fire

Says frontier shootings are necessary to stop criminal activity reporter, Dhaka

February 13, 2012

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The head of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) has come under a barrage of criticism over remarks regarding shootings carried out by his troops on Bangladeshi civilians. In an interview with the BBC aired on February 8, UK Bansal, director general of the BSF said it would not be possible to put an end to border shootings as his troops had to take steps to stop cross-border criminal activities. Dhaka responded by saying Bansal’s remark s seemed to contradict assurances being given by his own government. In a press release on February 11, Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “notes with disappointment" that Bansal's remarks "are at variance with the assurances given to Bangladesh at various levels, including at the highest level, on several occasions.” “Bangladesh's concern at incidents of firing and the killing of Bangladesh nationals by the BSF along border areas has been brought to the attention of the Indian side by Bangladesh at various forums,” it continued. “The government of Bangladesh has been encouraged by the assurances of the Indian leadership for the exercise of maximum restraint by BSF personnel,” it added. Earlier the BSF chief’s remarks drew fire from various rights groups, who called the comments “unacceptable” at a time when India is being widely criticized at home and abroad for border shootings and alleged torture. “At a time when two neighboring countries are working out strategies to foster peace in borders and stop firing, the remarks will hurt the whole process,” rights group Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) said. We expect the authorities will take possible measure to refrain from remarks that would hinder negotiations and stop unpleasant incidents along the border, they said. US-based rights group Human Rights Watch recently called on the Indian government to immediately stop the shootings and bring those responsible for killing civilians to justice.
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