A Border Security Force (BSF) jawan was killed and another injured on Thursday after a Bangladeshi border guard fired from his AK-47 rifle during a ‘flag meeting’ along the international border of the two countries in West Bengal, officials said.
The “apparent high handedness” of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) troops has led to tension between the two sides with BSF chief V K Johri calling up his counterpart Major General Shafeenul Islam over a hotline.
According to the reports, the fire between the BSF and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) was exchanged over the apprehension of an Indian fisherman caught on the Bangladeshi side in Behrampore, West Bengal.
BSF head constable Vijay Bhan Singh received bullet injuries on his head. He later succumbed to his injuries and another constable received bullet injuries on his right hand.
Both the injured BSF personnel were taken to a nearest medical facility. While Head Constable Vijay Bhan Singh was declared brought dead, the other injured constable was rushed to Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital, Behrampore.
A BSF official told India Today TV, “We have rushed a senior officer to the border area and BGB authorities have been contacted. Senior officials are on the spot.” The BGB Director General has assured a through probe of the incident, they said.
The relations between the two forces have been very cordial and no bullet has been fired between them for decades. This incident is an aberration and efforts are being made to ensure that the situation does not deteriorate, official sources said.
The incident has rung an alarm in the top security establishment in New Delhi with the Union home ministry and ministry of external affairs being briefed by the BSF.
Officials said the incident took place under the Kakmarichar border post of the BSF in Murshidabad district about 9 am when a force party approached BGB personnel, standing at a “char” or a riverine in the middle of the Padma river, to resolve an issue linked to Indian fishermen.
They said the trouble started when the BGB personnel held three Indian fishermen who were allowed by the BSF to fish within the International Border, that runs through the middle of the 3-km-wide Padma river.
The river offers a rich catch of the hilsa fish.
A BGB team then allowed two fishermen to go and inform the BSF that the third person has been held by them and that was when the BSF post commander of the 117th battalion, a sub-inspector, took a six-member party on a motor-boat to resolve the issue.
During the flag meeting, the BGB patrol did not release the Indian fisherman and also tried to cordon (gherao) the BSF troop. Sensing the situation worsening, the BSF party immediately returned.
A BGB jawan identified as Sayed fired from behind when the six-member BSF party started to return back on their motor-boat after seeing “aggressiveness” of the Bangladeshi personnel.
The BGB trooper, they said, fired from his AK-47 rifle and shot BSF head constable Vijay Bhan Singh on his head, while constable Rajvir Yadav sustained bullet injury on his hand.
The BSF jawan died on the boat itself and injured constable Yadav deftly saved the boat from drowning and brought it safely to the Indian side.
Security has been stepped up all along the 4,096-km Indo-Bangla border in the wake of the incident.
Meanwhile, BGB released a statement and said, “BSF party trying to trace an Indian fisherman along Indo-Bangla border: It should be noted that four out of the BSF members were wearing uniforms, rest were wearing half pants-gauze. Also important to note that the BSF team had weapons.”
“The BSF was told that if they want to take prisoners back, they would be given a formal return by the flag meeting. BGB patrol team informed them that you, too, came to Bangladesh illegally, so you too will be handed over through an official flag meeting,” the BGB said, adding, “The BSF members were then forced to flee. When BGB stopped them, BSF members started firing. The BGB then fired in self-defense. Later, it was reported that one BSF member was killed.”