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India to install sensors along Bangla border

India may soon import advanced sensors and other gadgets from the US to check the influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants.
By Syed Zarir Hussain, Indo-Asian News Service | PTI, Agartala
PUBLISHED ON JUL 30, 2005 07:35 PM IST

India may soon import advanced sensors and other gadgets from the US to check the influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants into the northeast region through a semi-porous border.

A Border Security Force (BSF) official said a team of experts from the federal home ministry is expected to visit the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, US, to shop for sophisticated electronic devices to arm paramilitary frontier guards in effectively checking infiltration from Bangladesh.

"Sensors devised at the Sandia National Laboratories are being used in the United States to check cross-border infiltration and the team of experts would be exploring the possibilities of using the same along the border with Bangladesh," a senior BSF commander told IANS requesting anonymity.

India and Bangladesh share a 4,095-km border, of which nearly half falls within the northeastern states of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram - a vast stretch of the border remaining unfenced with concrete pillars dividing the two countries.

"The idea is to see if the sensors can be used along the international border with Assam and Tripura, the two main routes for Bangladeshi infiltration," the commander said.

India's home ministry is also planning to put floodlights in certain vulnerable border areas along Assam to ensure effective checking of infiltration. "The border is long and the terrain very difficult with infiltration normally taking place during the night. Proper lighting facilities and advanced technologies could help in better surveillance," another BSF official said.

There are no estimates as to how many illegal migrants are residing in the northeast - identifying a Bangladeshi from an Indian border villager is almost impossible as people on either side of the border resemble physically and speak the same dialect.

Many of the illegal Bangladeshis work as rickshaw pullers, in brick kilns, and other menial jobs, particularly in Assam and Tripura. For hundreds of rickshaw pullers in Tripura, it was always breakfast in Bangladesh, lunch in India, and dinner again back home in Bangladesh.

Hordes of Bangladeshi nationals enter Tripura's capital Agartala early in the morning, work for the whole day and return to their homes crossing the unfenced border the two countries share.

The nearest village in Bangladesh is Akhaura - barely 1.5 km away from the heart of Agartala. Most of the people who come from across the border prefer pulling rickshaws that they hire on a daily basis, while some do odd jobs in Agartala.

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