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India to propose to Bangladesh single high border fences with anti-cut, anti-climb properties

India has decided to propose to Bangladesh “single line high fences with anti-cut, anti-climb properties” along the border areas which have yet to be fenced. Nearly 300 villages, which are located on the zero line and within 150 yards of the international border, have been identified for such fencing, said people aware of the matter.

The proposal is part of the Narendra Modi-led government’s initiative to have the entire India-Bangladesh border properly fenced. It will come up for discussion with Bangladesh government during Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s two-day visit to Dhaka from July 13.

The India-Bangladesh international border is spread over 4,096 km, of which 3,026 km is fenced. The unfenced locations often fall in the riverine areas of the border or in village areas where land acquisition is difficult for the government.

To make these areas secure, the people cited earlier said, the central government wants to erect a single line fence in place of the conventional three-line fence. The conventional three-line fence can be built beyond 150 yards of the border and at the Indian side. This kind of fencing needs more land. The single line fencing will come up within 150 yards of international border, provided Bangladesh gives its assent.

As per international law, there can be no construction within 150 yards of an international border. For this project, the concurrence of Bangladesh government is needed, said a senior official of the Border Security Force (BSF).

The BSF has already made the proposal which will be placed before the Bangladesh government. “In these areas, we cannot construct conventional fences due to several problems ranging from land acquisition and local issues to topographical constraints. That is why we have come up with the proposal of single line fencing,” said the BSF official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“This will not need much land and it will be anti-cut, anti-climb modular fencing. There will be some special features. For this, we need approval from Bangladeshi government since the project will come up on the area falling under 150 yards of the international border,” he said.

For long, Bangladesh has been expressing concern over killing of Bangladeshi citizens at the international border in BSF firing. Following repeated complaints by the neighbouring country, India adopted a policy that the BSF would use only non-lethal weapons along the India-Bangladesh border. As a result, since the beginning of 2018, there have been no deaths on account of BSF firing at the border till date. In 2017 the number of deaths was 14, less than 18 in 2016 and 26 in the previous year.

“This looks like a win-win situation for both the forces – BSF and BGB (Border Guards Bangladesh). From 26 deaths in 2015, we have come down to zero till date in 2018. It used to be an issue of grave concern for Bangladesh,” said the BSF official.

Meanwhile, there is also scope for discussion on the process of National Register of Citizens, work for which is going on in Assam, said another person.

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