India has expressed its intent to install meshed steel fence in at least 58 more places, within 150 yards of the zero line, along the border with Bangladesh.
The matter was last raised in a meeting in Dhaka on Monday between the foreign secretaries of the two countries—Masud Bin Momen of Bangladesh and Harsh Vardhan Shringla of India.
Shringla at a seminar on the Bangladesh-India relations in the day emphasised completing the fencing of a 165-kilometre stretch of the border with ‘modern cut-proof fence’ for a border security.
Shringla also raised the issue in a meeting with the Bangladesh side headed by the Bangladesh foreign secretary at the foreign ministry, according to Masud.
India had brought up the matter earlier at least twice apparently for a wholesale use of the consent from the Bangladesh authorities applicable only for special cases, government officials said.
The earlier two meetings were held at the home minister level in August 2019 and at the level of border security force chiefs in December the same year.
The Indian central government has already started raising meshed steel fence on a pilot basis beyond 150 yards along the borders in Assam and Mizoram states with Bangladesh.
Meshed steel fences cannot be climbed and are effective against conventional hand-cutting tools. They also prevent objects being passed through small gaps.
The Indian government has already erected barbed-wire fences within 150 yards in at least 50 places along the border in last 10 years, the government officials pointed out.
But now they ‘have sought concurrence’ from Bangladesh to install meshed steel fences in 58 more places on the plea of ‘overhauling the security system’, the officials said.
Security analyst M Sakhawat Hossain said that the government should strongly protest against the construction of meshed steel fences within 150 yards of the zero line along the border.
The Indian government has already constructed double-layer barbed wire fences in most parts of the border for close surveillance, mentioned Sakhawat, a retired brigadier general of Bangladesh Army, told New Age over phone on February 6.
He added that now the desire for setting up meshed steel fences ‘gives an indication of changes in their attitude,’
India erects this sort of fence along its western border as they consider Pakistan as a hostile country, he said, adding that India’s relations with Bangladesh and Pakistan could not be compared as ‘we are not a hostile country’.
Sakhawat observed that in recent times there was a drastic change in the attitude of the Indian central government in order ‘to undermine Bangladesh’.
India’s Border Security Force has also been showing an aggressive attitude, he further observed, saying ‘but it is not clear from where they get instructions.’
The changes in the attitude of the Indian government have surfaced after the conduct of the National Register of Citizenship and the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act as they are in trouble with these issues, he offered.
The Bangladesh government has agreed, in 2009, to allow border fencing within 150 yards from the zero line between the two countries provided it is necessitated by humanitarian concerns and geographical realities.
India has now launched attempts for the blanket use of this ‘consent’ from Bangladesh, officials said.
India has already erected barbed-wire fences along more than 3,000 kilometres of its 4,096.7-km-long border with Bangladesh.
Indian authorities are also considering now replacing the old barbed-wire fencing with meshed steel fences in phases, officials added.
India’s proposal on the meshed steel fencing is part of its plan to replace the barbed-wire fences, in phases, along the Bangladesh and Pakistan borders, according to Indian newspapers.
India’s union home minister Amit Shah reviewed its preparedness, in a meeting on December 14, for bringing in technological solutions to the vulnerable stretches of the eastern and western borders.
The Indian authorities asked the Border Security Force to ensure that meshed fence is installed along the borders with Bangladesh and Pakistan in a time-bound manner, according to Indian media reports.
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