Ajay Kaul in New Delhi
The Border Security Force said on Sunday that the "totally unprovoked" action by the Bangladesh Rifles was a "planned" venture in which its chief was involved and rejected charges that any Indian construction of a road along the border had led to the skirmishes in which 16 BSF men died.
The BSF also said it had no prior information from any agency about the BDR action in Pyrdiwah area in Meghalaya.
BSF Director General Gurbachan Jagat said in an interview to the Press Trust of India that the claim by Bangladesh that the BDR action was prompted by the construction of a path in Pyrdiwah area was baseless.
"There was no construction on the border. A path is being built at Lynkhat, about 4.5km inside the border," he said.
On reports that the action taken by BDR troops was purely at the instance of a local commander, Jagat said, "It was a planned operation. BDR Director General Major General A L M Fazlur Rahman was involved in it. Three battalions of the BDR would not move without the directions of the DG."
Terming the BDR's action in Pyrdiwah as "totally unprovoked," he said some 300 BDR personnel and hundreds of civilians surrounded the Indian border outpost in the area. "They [the BDR personnel] repeatedly said they had orders from Dhaka," he added.
Asked whether it could be the political leadership in Dhaka, he said, "I can't say."
Jagat said that for the first three days after encircling the Indian border outpost on April 15, the BDR personnel "just insisted that we vacate the area, an adverse position. But we told them that it had to be decided by the political leadership and not the forces."
"The issue of the path was added on April 18," he said.
Referring to the Boraibari incident, he denied that it was a retaliatory action planned by the BSF against the BDR's intrusion into Pyrdiwah. "Had it been so, we would have taken measures and moved with more troops," he said.
Detailing the events in Mancachar-Boraibari, Jagat said that after the BDR action in Pyrdiwah, the BSF was alerted and patrolling was ordered in other sectors to prevent another such incident.
"On the night of April 18, a BSF patrol was fired at and it was construed as a precursor to an attack by the BDR," he said. In a bid to pre-empt any such plan, the BSF commandant decided to enter the Boraibari area to gain "tactical advantage".
The BDR brought civilians forward as a defensive shield, owing to which BSF Deputy Commandant B R Mondal decided not to open fire. "This resulted in their capture and killing," Jagat said.
The BSF chief said that in view of this month's incidents, redeployment of troops had been carried out and patrolling on the Indo-Bangladesh border was being strengthened.
Jagat said the issue of adverse possessions had been unresolved for many years. Forty-seven 'adverse' positions belonging to Bangladesh are under Indian control while 43 such positions belonging to India are under Bangladeshi occupation.
The two countries have formed joint working groups to sort these out. The terms of reference of the JWGs were sent to Bangladesh in December last year and the response is awaited.
Meanwhile, BSF sources said the incident had affected the trust between the two border guard forces and would take some time to correct. They added that an alert on the Indo-Bangladesh border was yet to be withdrawn.
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