Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday announced that a ‘Border Protection Grid’ (BGP) will be set up in five eastern states bordering Bangladesh to strengthen security in a bid to check influx of illegal immigrants, including Rohingya. Singh announced this after chairing a meeting with senior government officials of West Bengal, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura at state secretariat Nabanna in Kolkata.
The meeting was attended by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and his Mizoram counterpart Lal Thanhawla. The concept of the grid has been planned as a multi-pronged and foolproof mechanism to secure the 4,036-km-long India-Bangladesh border, he told mediapersons.
“The grid will comprise various elements, namely physical barriers, non-physical barriers, surveillance system, intelligence agencies, state police, BSF and other state and central agencies. It will be supervised by a state-level standing committee, chaired by respective state secretaries. The BGP will ensure greater help for states in the overall border security,” Singh said, adding that to build the BGP, active participation of concerned states is required.
The Indo-Bangladesh border, covering Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal is 4,096 km long. So far, 3,006-km area has been secured with fence and works in the remaining 1,090 km is yet to begin, the minister said. “Out of this, 684 km will be secured with fence and the rest with the non-physical barriers. Though the bulk of the infrastructure is in place or under construction, in some parts, construction is yet to commence, mainly due to land acquisition issues. Chief ministers of these states must take personal interest to expedite land acquisition in the interest of national security,” Singh added.
A statement from the Home ministry said that the areas to be covered by non-physical barriers are those where fencing is not feasible like rivers or nullahs. “In these areas, technological solutions of a networked combination of electronic gadgets like radar, day-night cameras and various types of sensors among others — all integrated in a command and control architecture — will be used,” it added. Singh urged the five states to increase vigilance in border areas to control illegal migration, Rohingya influx, armed infiltration, cattle smuggling, human trafficking, supply of fake Indian currency notes and cross-border terrorism.
“We seek full cooperation from Bangladesh bordering states to control illegal activities in border areas. Border security is our top priority and there is a need to fast track border infrastructure development and strengthen security. The state governments have to be extra vigilant against Rohingya and other illegal immigrants,” he said.
Maintaining that India has a friendly relation with Bangladesh, Singh said: “All these measures will be taken to facilitate genuine trade and legitimate cross border movement of people while curbing radicalisation, illegal immigration, smuggling of cattle, fake Indian currency notes and drugs. There is a need to prevent entry, at international borders, of illegal immigrants some of whom have links with extremists groups for furthering anti-national activities with ulterior motives and posing threat to the internal security.”
While 2,217 km of the India-Bangladesh border is in Bengal, 262 km in Assam, 443 km in Meghalaya, 856 km in Tripura and 180 km in Mizoram. This is the fourth meeting the Union Home minister held with chief ministers of states, which share international borders. Three separate meetings of chief ministers of states, sharing borders with Pakistan, China and Myanmar, were held earlier.