Monday, 15 March 2010

15 wounded in BSF firing

Villagers flee for safety as over 1,000 gunshots traded on Jaintapur border in Sylhet; offensives after Delhi meeting shock BDR chief
Star Report

(Top) People who were injured in Indian Border Security Force (BSF) firing near Jaintapur border in Sylhet were admitted to the Jaintapur Upazila Health Complex. (Right) A deserted hut in the area as the villagers fled their homes. Photo: STAR

Bangladesh Rifles and the Indian Border Security Force traded gunfire for around three hours yesterday after the latter crossed the Jaintapur border in Sylhet and shot at the locals.

At least 15 villagers were injured in the BSF firing, reports our staff correspondent from Sylhet.

The border troops from either side fired over a thousand shots, forcing the villagers to flee their homes, said witnesses.

The skirmish took place a day after BSF intruded into Bangladesh, dug bunkers and retreated following a flag meeting.

Only three days back, the Indian frontier force assured their Bangladesh counterpart of no more shooting at the civilians in the border areas. The assurance came when directors general of the two forces met in New Delhi.

Some 40 Indians entered the Bangladesh territory through Muktapur-Jaintapur at around 10:30am.

An hour later, they were joined by a hundred more. Backed by the Indian guards, they attempted to erect bamboo huts at Mandir Tila in Dibir Haor area, about 300 yards off the no-man's land.

A fight ensued when the villagers asked the intruders to leave. Hurling stones, the two sides chased each other for an hour.

At around 2:00pm, BSF opened fire on the villagers and the BDR personnel.

Bangladesh border guards shot back at them, leading to a gunfight that continued till the Indians retreated at around 4:45pm.

Lieutenant Colonel Zahirul Alam, commanding officer of 21 Rifle Battalion in Sylhet, said the attack on the villagers was premeditated. Alongside BSF jawans, Indian Khasias took part in it.

He however could not confirm the number of shots exchanged.

Talking to The Daily Star last night, BDR Director General Major Gen Md Mainul Islam termed the incidents "very regrettable”.

He said BSF stopped firing after BDR contacted the Indian side.

He observed the decisions taken at the recent meet do not seem to have been communicated to the BSF ranks at the grassroots level.

Gen Mainul stressed the need for the joint boundary working group to meet immediately to prevent a flare-up.

Of the injured, Abul Kalam, 35, was admitted to Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital.

The others--Sumon 25, Abdur Rahman, 30, Mohammad Russell, 20, Ram, 25, Matin Miah, 30, Abdur Rahim, 40, Solaiman Miah, 80, Abdul Halim, 40, Mashuk,35, Sabbir Ahmed, Mokbul Ali, 26, Monir Hossain, 25, Kabir Ahmed, 22 and Akkel Ali--were taken to Jaintapur upazila health complex.

Most of those wounded hail from Dibir Haor, Ghilatail, Naljur and Fulbari areas.

The situation along the Jaintapur border has been tense since early February.

Indians have lately made several attempts to occupy land in Dibir Haor and Kendra Beel areas.

On February 4, BSF abducted nayek Mujibur Rahman from Dibir Haor. They returned him after a flag meeting on the Tamabil frontier.

But on February 14, the Indian border force shot and injured three Bangladeshis.

They fired at the villagers again on February 26 and 28.

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