The exchange of fire between the Border Guard Bangladesh and its Indian counterpart the Border Security Force at Bangladesh’s Charghat frontier in Rajshahi was an ‘unexpected’ incident, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said on Friday.
Responding to reporters after a discussion organised by Sampriti Bangladesh at the National Press Club in Dhaka, the minister said that a discussion was ongoing between the director generals of the BGB and the BSF and hoped that the problem would be solved through discussion.
Asaduzzaman Khan said that the incident was sparked by an Indian fishermen who entered Bangladesh territory to catch hilsa and the exchange of fires occurred when the BSF personnel, who entered Bangladesh without waiting for a flag meeting, was on their way back. There was one casualty — a BSF member died during the incident, he added.
‘There exists a good relationship between BGB and BSF and we are shocked at the sudden incident,’ the minister said.
BGB director general Major General Md Shafeenul Islam could not be reached for comments despite several attempts on Friday afternoon.
BGB 1 Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Ferdous Ziauddin Mahmud on Thursday night said that the BSF members on Thursday morning illegally entered into Bangladesh territory, reached about 600 yards inside Bangladesh, to take away an Indian fisherman who had been fishing hilsa in River Padma when there had been a ban of catching hilsa until October 31.
As BGB personnel told them to return the captured fisherman in a flag meeting, the BSF members attempted to snatch him away and beat him up, he said.
Following BGB’s protest, the BSF personnel left the spot opening 8-9 rounds of fire targeting the BGB personnel, forcing BGB to retaliate in self-defence, he said, adding that the BSF members left the Bangladesh territory without stopping the gunfire.
He said that following the incident, BGB and BSF held a flag meeting in Bangladesh territory between 4:45pm to 5:50pm, in which the BSF commandant claimed that one of the BSF members was killed and another injured.
On Thursday night, Charghat border outpost havildar Md Humayun Kabir lodged a case with Charghat Police Station against the Indian fisherman Sri Pranab Mandal of village Shrochar under Jalangi Police Station in Murshidabad of West Bengal under The Control of Entry Act 1952 for illegal intrusion and illegally catching mother hilsas from the River Padma when there is a ban on netting hilsa through government notification, said Charghat Police Station assistant sub-inspector Md Abu Salek.
He said that they produced the Indian fisherman before a Rajshshi court on Friday morning and the court sent him to jail.
Indian media reported that a flag meeting was called but it was not completed and claimed that the BGB personnel opened fire targeting the BSF personnel on their way back.
The Hindu, quoting a BSF statement, reported, ‘a flag meeting was called to defuse tension but it could not be completed.’
The report said that during the flag meeting, the BGB party commander informed that they could release the Indian fisherman after getting orders from their headquarters. The BSF members waited for a certain time, yet during the flag meeting the BGB patrol did not release the fisherman, it added.
‘When the BSF party was on its way back, there was firing from the Bangladesh side, causing fatal injury to Vijay Bhan Singh and injuries to boat-crew Rajbir Singh,’ the Indian newspaper reported.
NDTV reported, quoting unnamed BSF senior official, that the ‘attack by BGB…was ‘unprovoked’ and that Indian troops did not fire ‘a single bullet’ during the meeting between the two sides.
Economic Times reported, ‘a BSF jawan was killed and another injured on Thursday after a Bangladeshi border guard fired from his AK-47 rifle during a “flag meeting” along the international border.’
The ‘apparent high handedness’ of the BGB troops has led to tension between the two sides, prompting BSF chief VK Johri calling up his counterpart Major General Shafeenul Islam over a hotline, it reported.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs