Agartala, March 13 (IANS): After the Indian border guards started using non-lethal weapons, crimes along the India-Bangladesh border have increased, an official said here on Thursday.
The border guards of India and Bangladesh decided at a conference in Meghalaya capital Shillong earlier this week to increase the frequency of joint patrolling and further tighten the security along the boundary to deal with growing crimes.
"After the BSF (Border Security Force) stopped using lethal weapons and started using non-lethal weapons, crimes and crossing of border fencing have increased," BSF's chief spokesman Bhaskar Rawat told IANS.
He said: "BSF jawans are currently using non-lethal weapons like rubber bullet, pump action gun and sting grenade. These weapons upon firing make a loud noise and release smoke to disperse people trying to do any illegal activities along the border."
The official said after the director general level meeting and subsequent agreement between the BSF and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in August 2011, the BSF had started using non-lethal weapons instead of sophisticated fire arms.
The agreement was signed after the visit of then Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram to Dhaka. Following Bangladesh's public outcry that the BSF were killing its "innocent civilians", India took the decision not to use lethal weapons.
The BSF dismissed the BGB's claims and argued that if the civilians were innocent, why would they come to the border at odd hours of day and night.
"In the four-day meeting between the officials of BSF and BGB, we (BSF) have raised the issue (of increase in border crimes) and they (BGB) assured us to take certain steps to check the increasing crime. BGB officials said they would set up more border outposts (BOPs) and intensify their patrolling along the border," Rawat said.
The Indian side was led by BSF's Assam frontier Inspector General Sudhir Kumar Srivastava in the Shillong meeting.
The BSF officials asked their BGB counterparts that on several occasions unarmed Indian civilians were also killed by the Bangladeshi nationals. "These must be stopped," BSF officials told the BGB representatives.
Four northeastern states -- Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam -- share 1,880-km border with Bangladesh. The dense forests, mountainous terrain, unfenced borders and other problems make the area porous and vulnerable.