Bangladesh Rifles personnel obstructs survey of disputed Indo-Bangla border

Around 20 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) personnel today entered India and allegedly prevented a joint team of survey officials from carrying an exercise of verification of the disputed Indo-Bangla border stretches.

Government sources told PTI the 20-odd BDR personnel entered into the Pyrdiwah area and confronted the survey officials of Meghalaya and Bangladesh, before returning.

This followed yesterday's incident when some 40 BDR men, allegedly backed by armed Bangladeshis, prevented survey officials from carrying out exercise twice during the day prompting BSF to chase them away on both occasions.

Similar incidents were also reported earlier during the ongoing survey, forcing authorities to intimate New Delhi.

Interestingly, there was no objection from the Bangladeshi border guards when the survey of the disputed Lubachera (37 acre) and Baraibari (189 acre) areas both under adverse possession of Bangladesh - was carried out.

The BDR men are obstructing the survey at those stretches which are adversely held by India like Muktapur, Lyngkhat and Pyrdiwah, the sources said, adding that the BDR men claimed before the survey officials that those land belonged to Bangladesh and were not disputed.

The joint survey of the disputed borders along Bangladesh-Meghalaya, expected to pave the way for settlement of the boundary dispute, started on December 7.

According to Meghalaya revenue minister RC Laloo, the survey is supposed to be completed by January 15.

The exercise, which was mooted by the Joint Boundary Working Group during its meeting in New Delhi in November 2009, is being conducted by survey and land records officials of Bangladesh and Meghalaya.

In that meeting, it was decided that BDR and BSF would provide 'outside security' to the officials conducting the survey.

The verification will be conducted in 12 disputed patches bordering Meghalaya, stretches of which are under 'adverse possession' of either countries.

According to official records, currently, there are 551.8 acres of Bangladeshi land under 'adverse possession' of India (Assam and Meghalaya) while 226.81 acres of Indian land are under adverse possession of Bangladesh.

The areas under adverse possession, 12 in Meghalaya sector, were carved when the two countries demarcated the international boundary in the mid-1960s.

These figures are, however, approximate.

The current survey will estimate a final figure which will be placed at the next meeting of the Joint Boundary Working Group which will decide on the next course of action, Laloo said.

Border guards of both countries have been locked in gunbattle time and again on those frontiers over possession of the stretches, leading to fleeing of locals.

But the Bangladesh government has been objecting to the fencing in these patches, citing the disputes.

Officials said of the 571km of the sanctioned fencing work in the Bangladesh border of Assam and Meghalaya, only 248km has been completed.

Work is in progress in 123km, while there have been objections either from Meghalaya or from Bangladesh in the remaining stretches.