GUWAHATI, Sept 5 - The Government of India has compromised with national security by keeping the international border with Bangladesh open as along with foreign nationals, elements of fundamentalist and jehadi forces are entering India by taking advantage of the porous border. This was the allegation by the All Assam Students� Union (AASU).
Talking to The Assam Tribune, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya, who recently visited the Assam-Bangladesh border areas along with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, said that vast portions of the international border, particularly the riverine border, are still open and the hands of the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel are tied as they do not have the orders to use lethal weapons to check infiltration and smuggling.
Bhattacharya said that they had detailed talks with senior officers of the BSF during the trip and came to know about the shortcomings in the system. The total length of the international border in Dhubri sector is around 147.40 kilometres, of which, more than 60 kilometres is riverine border. Though around 80 kilometres of land border has been fenced, the riverine border is still totally open. Moreover, the fencing is damaged in various parts because of rusting and soil erosion and these should be replaced immediately. The border roads are also damaged in various parts and need immediate attention.
The AASU chief adviser revealed that though flood lights have been installed in some parts of the international border, the Government has not yet provided dedicated electricity supply. As it is not possible to use generator sets all throughout the nights, the lights are only switched on from time to time. The BSF has 30 speed boats to guard the riverine international border and from time to time, the force has to hire boats from the local people. However, the officers of the BSF themselves admitted that poor visibility seriously affected river patrolling at night.
Bhattacharya said that during the visit to one of the chars located on the international border, they witnessed that only an Indian flag and the border pillar demarcated the international boundary and any foreigner can easily sneak into India. There are as many as 25 such chars in the area, which have very little security cover. The BSF men deployed in such chars face severe shortage of drinking water and they do not have any electricity. At least solar power system could have been provided in such BOPs, he pointed out.
Though a decision to create a second line of defence was taken way back in 1999, only 30 personnel of the force are now deployed in Dhubri sector and Bhattacharya said that the State Government should take up the issue with the Centre and take immediate steps to strengthen the second line of defence.
The AASU questioned whether the Government of India would keep the international border with Pakistan open and demanded that the people of Assam should be apprised of the progress of sealing the international border with Bangladesh. As the Chief Minister himself saw the situation on the ground, he should also take up the issue strongly with the Government of India, Bhattacharya demanded.