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B'desh-India agree to sort out all border problems soon

January 21, 2011 00:29 IST

Bangladesh and India agreed to sort out all problems related to the common border within the next two months, ahead of the planned visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the country later this year.

Bangladesh Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikdar, who held a crucial two-day talks with his Indian counterpart Gopal K Pillai, said all border and security related issues were discussed in the meeting and both the sides are working sincerely to resolve the ongoing problems in shortest possible time.

The two top officials discussed counterfeit Indian currency being pushed across the border, activities of extremists and terrorists, insurgency, human trafficking, repatriation of prisoners, border fencing, immigration issues and follow up of Joint Boundary working group meeting.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the end of Home Secretary-level talks, they expressed the hope that all issues related to the common border would be completed within one or two months, ahead of the planned Dhaka visit of Indian prime minister.

Asked about measures to ease the Indian visa regime, Pillai said that with the installation of online visa processing, the process has been speeded up in recent period, with 1,500 to 2,000 Bangladeshi applicants getting the official travel permit everyday.

He promised to further ease visa processing, particularly for Bangladeshis seeking medical treatment in India. Officials familiar with the meeting said casualties in cross-border firings dominated the talks between the top officials. With regard to the controversy of people being killed in cross-border firings, Pillai said New Delhi was "not comfortable" with the deaths of Bangladeshis. However, he said casualty figures had declined in the past 12 months when compared to the previous year.

Pillai said the death figure has come down to 31 in 2010 and even then we do not feel comfortable with this 31 deaths." "We are still committed to zero death on frontiers, he said. Pillai said 63 BSF men were injured in combating the criminal elements along the frontiers in 2010 while he sought the help of Bangladeshi residents and BDR, which is set to be renamed soon as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), in halting the illegal movement of people at night along the border.

India has asked Bangladesh to "sensitise" its people to follow legal routes for crossing their porous frontier. The Indian Home Secretary reiterated New Delhis regret for the killing of 15-year-old girl Felani in Kurigram border on January 7 and said a court of inquiry was underway to punish those responsible for it.

Anisur Rahman in Dhaka
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