Bangladesh to raise 19 new border guards battalions

Written by: Pti
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Anisur Rahman

Dhaka, Feb 15 (PTI) Bangladesh will raise 19 newbattalions over the next five years to guard its porousborders with India and Myanmar, the chief of the country''sparamilitary frontier force said here today.

"We will raise the battalions in phases in next fiveyears alongside creating four regional headquarters as a newtier in the structure of the frontier force and four newsectors under a massive reconstruction plan for Border GuardBangladesh (BGB)," Major General Rafiqul Islam told PTI in aninterview.

The paramilitary force, known as Bangladesh Riflestill last month, is now known as Border Guard Bangladesh.

The border force is undergoing a massive overhaul withits name, laws, uniform and monogram all changed to give it anew look in the aftermath of the 2009 mutiny in which 57officers were killed.

Islam said the regional headquarters of the forcewould be set up at northeastern Sarail, southeasternChittagong, western Jessore and northwestern Naogaon.

The BGB chief said additional manpower would enablethe paramilitary frontier force to reduce the existing gaps inits frontier outposts from 10 kilometres to five kilometerswhile borders guards would also be equipped with motorbikes topatrol the frontlines.

Currently the BGB has 46 battalions but the force washit by a major crisis after some 6,000 soldiers were accusedof mutiny charges. This also necessitated recruitments andrestructuring of the frontier force.

BGB officials familiar with the rebuilding processsaid the frontier force would also construct observationtowers to keep a vigil on the borders and a process wasunderway to procure 17,000 motorbikes for the border guards.

The initiatives to overhaul the force are aimed atfreeing it of the stigma of the February, 2009 mutiny when 74people, including 57 army officers serving the paramilitaryforce were killed at its Pilkhana headquarters in Dhaka.

Several hundred accused border guards have alreadybeen jailed for up to seven years under the relatively lenientBDR Act of the frontier guards.

Around 800 "core culprits" of the mutiny are set to beput on trial on March 5 on charges of involvement in killings,lootings, hostage-taking and torturing army officers and theirfamily members during the rebellion.

The newly-enacted BGB Act has prescribed death penaltyfor such a mutiny. The new Act has also laid down a provisionfor qualified soldiers to be given a chance to join the armyas commissioned officers with due recruitment procedures.

"Every force of the country will have to abide bytheir laws to evade any unfortunate event in future... Ibelieve you clearly understand from the core of your heartwhat damage could be caused if it is violated," Prime MinisterSheikh Hasina said last month as the BDR was formally renamedas BGM at a ceremony at Pilkhana, the scene of the carnage.

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