GUWAHATI, Aug 21 � The Government of India has decided to provide the personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) with pump action guns in addition to the normal weapons used by the force to thwart infiltration and smuggling from Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the Centre has also decided to complete fencing the entire land border with Bangladesh by the end of 2012.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the pump action guns, which throw pellets, are considered non-lethal weapons and the same would be used by the BSF to thwart infiltration and smuggling. Sources said that the forces have also been directed to try and hit on the legs of the infiltrators and smugglers and use lethal weapons only when required. The new weapons have already been provided to the BSF in West Bengal and the same would be provided in a phased manner in other parts sharing international border with Bangladesh.
Sources pointed out that with improvement of relations between India and Bangladesh, the use of lethal weapons to check infiltration was not advisable and the Government of the neighbouring country has been making a hue and cry whenever a citizen of that country is killed in BSF firing. However, it is sometimes difficult to thwart infiltrators and smugglers without using weapons and that is why the personnel of the border guarding force are being provided with non-lethal weapons. But the forces will continue to use lethal weapons whenever they come under attack from anyone.
Sources said that the BSF is also phasing out the old SLRs and the same is being replaced by the 5.56 bore rifles manufactured by the Indian Ordnance Factory.
Meanwhile, sources revealed that the Government of India has decided to complete fencing the entire land border with Bangladesh by 2012 and the Government of Bangladesh has agreed to allow construction of fencing within 150 yards from the zero line wherever required. MHA sources said that the pace of construction of roads and fencing in Assam improved considerably and the entire border in Tripura barring a patch in the Kanchanpur area has been fenced. The Government of India has also asked the Government of Meghalaya to give the clearance for construction of fencing in the entire stretch as soon as possible. However, the riverine international border remains a cause of concern as physical barriers are not possible in the area.
The Government of India has also decided to increase the strength of the BSF and it has been decided that the distance between the border outposts of the force would not be more than 3.5 kilometres. New BOPs of the BSF are coming up in the entire stretch of the Indo-Bangla border in the days to come to reduce the distance of the BOPs.
Sources pointed out that earlier the Bangladesh Government did not allow any construction activity within 150 yards from the zero line, which not only affected construction of the fencing but also affected the people living in that area as no major development activity could take place in that patch. But recently, the Government of the neighbouring country softened its stand on the issue and in response, India allowed 24-hour entry to the Tin Bigha corridor.