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Tension on border after firing by Bangladesh Rifles

Tension prevailed along the India-Bangladesh border in southern Meghalaya today after Bangladesh Rifles troops resorted to "unprovoked firing" in different areas.

india Updated: Jun 15, 2010 18:47 IST

Tension prevailed along the India-Bangladesh border in southern Meghalaya on Tuesday after Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) troops resorted to "unprovoked firing" in different areas.

Border Security Force (BSF) troops, however, did not retaliate to the BDR firing in which a woman was injured.

"We did not retaliate because in the past they have always blamed us of resorting to firing to which we have denied," a BSF official, who pleaded anonymity, told IANS.

"But it doesn't mean that we will remain silent. We are maintaining a strict vigil to protect our border and we will act accordingly," the official said.

A teacher, Sari Nonglamin, was hit by a bullet in her right leg at Amdoh between Naljuri and Muktapur villages, he said.

On Tuesday, the BDR indulged in fresh "unprovoked firing" to scare away Indian villagers from cultivating certain patches of land in these areas claiming them to be part of Bangladesh.

The firing began around 9.30 a.m. in Muktapur village, followed by subsequent firing at Naljuri, Jaliakhola, Langtilla and Rongtilla areas which are under the adverse possession of India in Meghalaya's Jaintia Hills district.

Also coming under BDR attack was Pyrdiwah village (under adverse possession of India in Meghalaya's East Khasi Hills district) which was occupied by the BDR in 2001 for several days, claiming it to be part of Bangladesh, before they were forced to retreat.

Meghalaya Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh said a district administration team has been rushed to the affected areas to take stock of the situation.

"We will continue to plough our fields and the BDR should not object to it or resort to such firing which tantamounts to human rights violation," Manoj Manar, a village chief said.

There have been several incidents of exchange of fire between the BSF and the BDR this year due to claims and counter-claims over land by both countries.

Meanwhile, panic-stricken border villagers in Meghalaya have shifted to safer grounds following Tuesday's gunfire.

"The situation is tense. Most of the people, especially women and children, have moved to safer grounds after the gunfire," Manar said.

On June 4, union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said the joint boundary working group of India and Bangladesh would meet either in July or August to resolve all the boundary disputes.

Of the 4,098-km-long border shared between India and Bangladesh, Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her visit to India had agreed to maintain peace and status quo on the border.

At present there are 551.8 acres of Bangladesh land under adverse possession of India, while 226.81 acres of Indian land is under adverse possession of Bangladesh.

The areas under adverse possession were created when East Pakistan and India demarcated the international boundary in the mid-1960s. There are 11 such areas in Meghalaya.

While Bangladesh is citing documents of 1937, the Indian side relies on land records of 1914 to support its claims.

First Published: Jun 15, 2010 18:45 IST