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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Smuggling, border infiltration almost nil in Tripura during lockdown

The border agency has suspended joint patrolling and drills with its Bangladeshi counterpart Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) as well and no exchange of paperwork is entertained now.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala | Published: May 7, 2020 7:18:59 pm
BSF has 18 battalions with an estimated 800 personnel in each battalion in Tripura. Out of these, 450 personnel are posted in border area from each of these battalions. (Express Photo by Abhisek Saha)

Smuggling and cross border infiltration along the Indo-Bangla border in Tripura has come down almost to nil during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

“When infiltration took place in Khowai or Sidhai areas earlier this year, people and police caught them, not BSF. Even the police and TSR haven’t been able to apprehend anyone as well in the last few weeks. It means there is no cross border movement in the area,” a BSF Public Relations Officer (PRO) told reporters on Thursday.

He added that Tripura State Rifles (TSR) is deployed as second line of defence in bordering areas after the BSF. District Magistrates are also responsible for looking after border areas as volunteer and inform the administration, he informed.

Tripura, which identified its first two COVID-19 cases in April, now has 62 active cases. All the current active cases came from the state are BSF jawans and their relatives from the force’s 138 Battalion at Ambassa in Dhalai district, 100 km from Agartala.

“We aren’t allowing BSF deployed in borders inside the (affected) headquarter. The whole battalion headquarters is sealed and so are other personnel living in other camps and in BOPs,” the official said.

BSF has 18 battalions with an estimated 800 personnel in each battalion in Tripura. Out of these, 450 personnel are posted in border area from each of these battalions.

Two BSF battalions are deployed in Dhalai district, worst hit by the coronavirus and it has full manpower to dominate the area throughout day and night, especially since the area is  not fenced in a some patches.

All mass physical activities including PT, sainik sammelan or other gatherings are temporarily suspended to avoid any spread of the virus in BSF camps. The usual staffing was also reduced to prevent escalation of situation. No civilian workers are allowed to enter any BSF camp for the time being, neither is any BSF jawan allowed to interact with civilians. Jawans staying outside camps on rent and at headquarters with their families aren’t allowed to enter the camps either.

The border agency has suspended joint patrolling and drills with its Bangladeshi counterpart Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) as well and no exchange of paperwork is entertained now.

The BSF said it would not do reinforcements in border patrols since they are focusing maintaining social distancing norms.

However, the official said there is no need to panic as border is completely sealed and there is no chance of seepage of infection across International border with Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh Army is also deployed in many parts of the bordering areas on the other side to prevent any chance of infiltration.

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