The Indian Navy has asked the Border Security Force and the customs department to beef up their presence along the 160-km-long stretch of water that runs through the Sunderbans.
Commodore Brian Anthony Thomas, naval officer in charge of West Bengal, said here on Thursday that this vast unmanned stretch might threaten India’s security.
The reason: This stretch provides almost free-entry rights to the Indian waters where ships from Bangladesh are allowed to travel a long stretch before reaching the customs checkpoint at Namkhana, about 120 km south of Kolkata.
According to an Indo-Bangladesh trade agreement, ships from Bangaldesh can enter India through Bihari Khal by going through a routine check by the BSF.
At present, seven to eight ships enter India from Bangladesh everyday through this route.
Navy officials are concerned that even two years after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, such a long stretch remained unmanned. For, the Pakistani killers reached Mumbai through the sea route.
Commodore Thomas said the issue, however, had at last been taken up by the Union cabinet secretary. “We have already informed the BSF and the customs department. We understand that they are short of staff but something needs to be done.” Reality check