Amid growing concerns over terrorists using the porous Indo-Bangla border, the Border Security Force has submitted a detailed proposal to the West Bengal government about the amount of land needed for setting up fences in a highly sensitive 81.7 km area on an urgent basis.
The issue of erecting fences along the international Indo-Bangla border was in cold storage for last several years. It was taken up just months after the terror attack in Dhaka and various intelligence inputs about how the porous Indo-Bangla border is fast turning into a transit point for terrorists and cattle smugglers.
"The matter of identifying land and survey of land was held back since 2009. But recently the state government had sought detailed proposals from us regarding the amount of land that is required in the south Bengal frontier. We have placed a detailed report about the amount of land and alignment that is needed and other basics that is required by the BSF," Sandeep Salunke, Inspector General BSF (South Bengal frontier) said.
According to Salunke, that the BSF had handed over a detailed report of land plots needed in North 24 Parganas, Nadia and Murshidabad district to fence 81.7 km without delay. Bangladesh and West Bengal share about 2,216.7 km of border.
"Out of the 915 km of border in the South Bengal frontier only 371 km is fenced. So we have sent the proposal for setting up fences in 81.7 km at an urgent basis. These areas are highly sensitive. Fencing would be an added advantage in border patrolling," a senior BSF official said.
According to state secretariat sources, the report was handed to the state chief secretary and home secretary and the process for the survey of the land has already started.
"Yes we had received a report from them. Now the state has land purchase committee, under the state owns land policy, which will look into it. The BSF will pay for the land and it will be registered under BSF only.
"The process of survey of that land and alignment has started on an war footing. The entire process will be completed very soon," a senior official of the state home department told PTI on condition of anonymity.
According to BSF and state home department sources, 67.38 km in North 24 parganas, 7.99 km in Nadia and 6.41 km in Murshidabad district need immediate fencing as these areas are fast turning into safe heavens for JMB members and other anti-socials.
The North 24 Parganas district shares nearly 241 km of international border with Bangladesh. As per state police and BSF sources, till July more than 50 Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested for illegally crossing over.
According to state government sources, the deadlock over the land issue came after there was agreement with the Bengal government's suggestion of direct land purchase by the BSF with help from the state administration.
Recently, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has given strict instructions to the police and district administration to stop cow smuggling across the international border.
According to BSF and state home department sources, the recent terror attack in Dhaka's posh Gulshan area and recent arrest of Mohammed Musiruddin (25) that has exposed the presence of the terror group in the state, particularly in the districts bordering Bangladesh including Burdwan.
"After Burdwan blast it came into light how this porous border was used by the JMB terrorists to set up their base in the state. A proper border fencing would help in checking it," a senior state IB official said.
Burdwan district entered the terror map in October 2014 when two suspected JMB terrorists were killed while making improvised explosive devices at a rented house at Khagragarh. The JMB wants to established the Sharia rule by overthrowing the democratically-elected government in Bangladesh, the NIA had stated in its charge sheet.
Representative Photograph: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters