Saturday, April 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India accepts bodies of 15 BSF men
Says they are badly mutilated
Tribune News Service and PTI

Mankachar (Assam), April 20
After hours of controversy, India late tonight accepted “highly mutilated” bodies of 15 BSF men killed by Bangladesh Rifles in border clashes even as New Delhi virtually absolved Dhaka of being behind the skirmishes.

“Almost all the bodies brought by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) were highly mutilated and beyond recognition. We have now accepted them,” a senior BSF officer said after the Indian authorities had refused to accept them initially.

When the bodies were brought by Col Sadiqul Islam of 8th BDR Battalion at a checkpost near here after darkness, they were refused on the ground that they were in a “very bad shape and in a state of decomposition”, the officer said.

Official sources said the bodies bore marks of torture and strangulation. They bore burn injuries on them and were in a badly mutilated condition with heads and limbs severed. Only seven of the bodies, including that of a Deputy Commandant, had been identified so far.

India accepted the bodies after a flag meeting between BSF and BDR commanders at Kamalpur in Bangladesh held in the night after an earlier meeting at Kakrepara on the Indian side had failed to resolve the issue.

The bodies were handed over without the weapons carried by the killed soldiers and the issue would have to be sorted out with the BDR, the officer said.

Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed today on the India-Bangladesh border, a day after paramilitary border forces of the two countries agreed to a ceasefire in the wake of two days of heavy exchange of fire that left 16 BSF personnel dead. There had been no exchange of fire between Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and the BSF after midnight in Boraibari, Deputy Commissioner of Dhubri Gayatri Baruah said, adding residents of nearly 20 villages who had fled, however, had not returned so far.

The two sides remained engaged in sporadic exchange of fire along the border in Boraibari area till midnight even after an agreement was reached at the flag meeting of the BSF and BDR to stop the hostility and maintain status quo, sources here said.

The border at Boraibari in Assam and Pyrdiwah in Meghalaya has been quiet today, BSF Additional Director-General M.K. Singh said in New Delhi.

In Pyrdiwah, where the BSF men retook possession of their observatory post from the BDR after three days of occupation of the village, panic-stricken villagers have not yet returned to their homes.

BSF Director-General Gurbachan Jagat flew to the border areas for an on-the-spot study of the situation.

Jagat, who is expected to return to New Delhi tomorrow, will submit a report to the government analysing the events that led to worst-ever border clashes between the two neighbours in the past three decades.

Reports from Dhaka said of the 11 bodies of BSF personnel, which the BDR claims to have collected on Wednesday after the fierce fighting, a post-mortem examination of only five had been done. Bodies of six other BSF personnel would be handed over later after the post-mortem examination.

NEW DELHI: In a conscious move, India on Friday blamed “local adventurism” for problems of the past few days at the border with Bangladesh and claimed that status quo had been fully restored along the border in Meghalaya sector.

“Local adventurism can lead to unfortunate developments like the unwarranted and unprovoked action by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) at Pyrdiwah”, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said here in an obvious effort to downplay the tragic events at the long common border between the two countries.

Asked if New Delhi was convinced that Dhaka was not involved in the firing of BSF personnel killing several of them, the spokesman avoided a direct reply, saying that “the speed and maturity with which the two Governments reacted to resolve the problem within 48 hours through diplomatic channels testifies to the goodwill and understanding between the Governments of India and Bangladesh, who are determined to address all residual matters relating to the common border through peaceful dialogue”.

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