India, Bangla discuss border security

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Anisur Rahman

Dhaka, Jan 19 (PTI) India today asked Bangladesh to"sensitise" its people to follow legal routes for crossingtheir porous frontier as the two sides discussed key issuesrelated to cross-border weapon and drug smuggling, extremistand terrorist activities and prisoners'' repatriation.

At a joint working group meeting ahead of the crucialHome Secretary-level talks, Bangladeshi officials called for"maximum restraint and requested that the killings must stop"along the 4,095-km border, which has witnessed severalincidents.

"Indian side expressed sympathies and regret at therecent killing of a minor girl at the border near Fulbari,Kurigram," said a joint statement issued at the end of thetwo-day joint working group meeting, which officials said waslargely dominated by the frontier shootout issue.

Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Rajeet Mitter wassummoned on Sunday by the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry, whichhad lodged a "strong protest" against the "brutal andsenseless" killing of 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl Falaniallegedly by BSF when she was trying to return home fromIndia, where she was working.

At the Home Secretary-level talks between G K Pillai andhis Bangladeshi counterpart Abdus Sobhan Shikdar, which are tobegin later in the day, India is expected to take up the issueof early handing over of ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia,who has completed his sentence in Bangladesh, so that he canparticipate in the proposed peace talks.

Chetia has been languishing in a Dhaka jail even sincehis arrest on December 21, 1997. ULFA chairman ArabindaRajkhowa has also asked government to take steps for the earlyreturn of Chetia.

The statement issued after the joint working groupmeeting said the Indian side also requested Bangladesh to"sensitise people to follow the legal routes for crossing theborder and particularly to restrict movement in those areas atnight hours."

It said that both sides expressed their satisfaction atthe current level of cooperation on security-related issuesbetween Bangladesh and India.

"They emphasised on further strengthening interactionbetween the authorities of the two countries in dealing withsecurity-related matters for mutual benefit," the statementsaid. (More) PTI AR KIM AKJ

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