GUWAHATI, Sept 3 - The infrastructure in place to guard the international border with Bangladesh is not at all satisfactory and there is an urgent need for improving the scenario to check the infiltration of foreigners into the State, said Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal after extensively travelling along the border in the Mankachar area.
Talking to The Assam Tribune over phone from Hatsingimari after completing his two-day trip along the international border, Sonowal revealed that around 60 km of riverine international border and the char areas located along the border are completely open and it is easy for the infiltrators and smugglers to come to India. He said that the condition of the fencing along the border is also very poor.
The Chief Minister expressed the view that modern technology must be used to improve guarding of the international border along with strengthening the border guarding infrastructure. He said he has already requested the Union Home Minister to use the Army to create the necessary infrastructure to improve border guarding so that the quality of the fence is brought at par with the fencing along the India-Pakistan border.
Sonowal visited the border along with a delegation of the All Assam Students� Union (AASU) and legislators from his own party, Congress, AGP and AIUDF. Senior police officers, including the Director General of Police, Mukesh Sahay, Special DGP, Law and Order, Kula Saikia, Special DGP, Border, RM Singh, senior officers of the BSF and others also accompanied him.
The Chief Minister�s press adviser Hrishikesh Goswami said that immediately after arriving at Mankachar yesterday, Sonowal paid tribute to the BSF men who were killed in the Baraibari area in 2001 and travelled along the border roads to Sisumara border outpost (BOP) of the BSF. He also went to Hatir Char in the border, which only holds a border pillar and there is no physical barrier to prevent infiltration of foreigners.
This morning, Sonowal travelled by boat along the riverine international border for three hours to see the situation on the ground. �Representatives of different organisations met Sonowal and told him that no Chief Minister in the past had extensively travelled along the international border,� he added.
Meanwhile, AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath, who accompanied the Chief Minister, said the riverine international border is totally open and supported the Chief Minister�s demand that the Army should be deployed to create infrastructure to improve border guarding. It is unfortunate that the international border is open even after 31 years of signing of the Assam Accord, he said.
Nath said that during the visit to Hatir Char they saw a totally open border and in fact, the Bangladeshi nationals came over to talk to them. He said that as many as 32 such chars exist in the area, which have no barrier to check infiltration. The people of the area also told the delegation that cattle smuggling is rampant and more than 32,000 cattle heads were seized by the BSF so far this year. However, once those are handed over to the Customs department, the smugglers often buy them back.