Tuesday, April 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punish culprits, Bangladesh told
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
India today asked the Bangladesh Government to act against the perpetrators of crimes against the Border Security Force personnel saying that acts of “criminal adventurism” should not be permitted to affect ties between the two countries.

Making identical statements in both Houses of Parliament, the Minister for Defence and External Affairs, Mr Jaswant Singh, gave a brief account of the incident and the exchanges that have taken place at the political level between the two countries.

Since the entire Opposition was shocked at the ghastly killings of the BSF personnel, Mr Jaswant Singh was allowed to make the statement on the incident. The incident evoked strong reactions from the members of the Opposition and the NDA allies and ranged from overhauling India’s foreign policy, teaching a lesson to Bangladesh and resignation of the Prime Minister.

Mr Jaswant Singh in his statement said “ties of friendship exist between the two countries, and acts of criminal adventurism should not be permitted to affect these ties.”

Giving a countdown of the incidents on the India-Bangladesh border during April 16 to 19 caused by the “unwarranted and unprovoked intrusion” by the BDR forces into the village of Pyridiwah in the east Khasi hill district of Meghalaya, Mr Jaswant Singh said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had spoken to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and conveyed that she was deeply saddened and concerned by these incidents.

She said a full investigation would be carried out into all aspects of the incidents, including the mutilation of the bodies of the BSF personnel.

Mr Vajpayee voiced India’s deep sense of hurt and anguish over the inhuman treatment meted out to BSF personnel on the Indo-Bangladesh border, Mr Jaswant Singh said.

Mr Jaswant Singh’s statement in the Lok Sabha followed a ruckus created by the Opposition members who wanted to know as soon as the House assembled the government’s reaction on the ghastly killings.

The way BSF soldiers had been done to death had shocked the entire nation and this must be condemned, they said.

Reacting to the government’s statement, Mrs Sonia Gandhi said the whole nation was “shocked and shaken” by the “inhuman and barbarous” act which needed to be condemned.

Describing the issue as a “national matter”, she asked the government to look into all aspects of the incident, including whether there was any intelligence failure or slackness in vigilance. “The House and the country await answers,” she said, hoping that such incidents would not be repeated as they would adversely affect the bilateral relations. In his statement, the External Affairs Minister said when the bodies of the BSF personnel were returned on April 20 evening, as demanded by India, “shocking marks of injury and mutilation” as also evidence of eight of them having been shot at point blank range were found.



BDR opened fire in ‘self-defence’

Dhaka, April 23
A day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke to her Indian counterpart Atal Behari Vajpayee, Bangladesh today sought to give a new twist to the killing of BSF soldiers, claiming Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) “had to open fire in self defence” since they were “under attack”.

Foreign Secretary Syed Muazeem Ali, who briefed the Press on a telephonic talk between the two Prime Ministers, made no mention of Mrs Hasina having made any direct expression of regrets for the torture and killings of the BSF personnel.

A carefully-worded statement read out by Mr Ali said the Bangladesh Prime Minister expressed her deep shock and grief at the unnecessary and avoidable loss of lives “on both sides”.

While assuring Mr Vajpayee that necessary investigation would be done to ascertain the “correct position”, Mrs Hasina “requested the Indian Prime Minister to investigate and to find out the detailed position” about the incident in Boraibari along the Assam border.

Referring to the incident in Pyrdiwah village in Meghalaya, the statement said Mrs Hasina had told Mr Vajpayee that the “BDR troops had encircled the BSF camp when the latter was trying to construct a pucca road connecting the BSF camp with the Indian territories. There was no casualty or injury”.

She said, “but the second incident in Roumari (Boraibari) resulted in casualties when the BDR troops were under attack and they had to open fire in self defence”.

On the outrage and shock over the torture of the BSF soldiers and the defilement of their bodies, the statement merely says Mr Vajpayee “also referred to their views expressed earlier on the treatment meted out to the bodies of BSF personnel’’.

The Foreign Secretary said Mrs Hasina had emphasised that the recent border incident had once again highlighted the urgent need to complete the “unfinished tasks’’ of full implementation of the Indira-Mujib Accord of 1974, which she believed would help both sides avoid recurrence of such unfortunate incidents.

Mr Ali said the two leaders agreed that as per the last senior official-level meeting, two task forces would be constituted soon to expedite the process of implementation, and that both sides would proceed in the matter in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

Mrs Hasina also used the occasion to observe that the Indo-Bangladesh relations were time-tested and that such border incidents would not change the nature of thrust of friendly ties between the two countries.

During the 30-minute conversation, she informed Mr Vajpayee that as soon as she heard the news about the border incidents, she had asked all authorities concerned to defuse the situation and to deescalate tension.

“The Foreign Ministers and the border security agencies of the two countries were in constant touch now”, she said.

The two leaders maintained that the existing “exemplary friendly and cordial ties between the two countries would be maintained and further strengthened”. PTI



VHP seeks army action

New Delhi, April 23
Carrying tridents and swords, activists of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal activists today held a demonstration in front of the Bangladesh High Commission here in protest against the brutal killing of 16 BSF jawans, and demanded military action against Dhaka if it did not punish the guilty immediately.

Addressing the demonstrators, leaders of the two Sangh Parivar outfits asked the Vajpayee government to launch a military action against Bangladesh if Dhaka did not court martial those responsible for the barbaric killing of Indian jawans and mutilation of their bodies.

VHP President Vishnu Hari Dalmia said if the Sheikh Hasina government had no control over the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and army it should allow India to “teach them a lesson”.

Bajrang Dal convener Surendra Jain said the BDR action was well-planned and no apology on the part of Bangladesh would suffice. He criticised the foreign policy of the Vajpayee government, saying that the “soft handling” of the issue would spell further danger for the country.

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