A day after a Border Security Force head constable was shot dead and another was injured by Bangladesh border guards, BSF officers have said the firing was unprovoked, and that the Indian side did not even retaliate.
Thursday’s incident took place along the riverine India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district. As per a statement issued by the BSF, three Indian fishermen were fishing in the Padma river. Two later returned and approached the BSF post in Kakmarichar, stating that the BGB had apprehended them, but later released them to call the BSF for a flag meeting.
According to officials, the point where the flag meeting was to take place is 300-400 metres inside Bangladesh territory. The BSF said their patrol boat, with five personnel on board, came under heavy firing from BGB troops when they went for the flag meeting. Head constable Vijay Bhan Singh (50) was killed on the spot, while the boatman received a bullet injury on his arm.
The third fisherman has still not returned. Officials said he is currently in the custody of the Bangladeshi police.
BGB officials have claimed that the BSF patrol team came to Bangladesh illegally to retrieve the prisoner, and the patrol tried to flee and started firing. They have also said that they opened fire on the BSF team in “self-defence”.
However, BSF Inspector-General (South Bengal Frontier) Y B Khurania has dismissed the BGB allegations. “No firing was done by anyone from BSF. We did not even retaliate after they fired. They even said that the two fisherman (who called the BSF) managed to run away,” Khurania told The Indian Express.
“There is a complete Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for flag meetings — we carry an orange flag, so they knew the officials were there for a flag meeting, and not to forcefully release anyone. The orange flag is also visible in the photograph released by BGB. Now they cannot say that our party was not there for the flag meeting,” he added.
BSF officials said the last incident of firing along the border took place in April 2005. “This is unacceptable… We have lodged a strong protest,” said an official.