M A I N   N E W S

Gunfight on Bangla border: Student dies
Kidnapped BSF officer handed over to India
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
Indian diplomacy experienced a rare triumph this evening when Bangladesh released a BSF sub-inspector held hostage since morning after firing between jawans of the BSF and Bangladesh Rifles on the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal.

Diplomatic sources here disclosed that the matter had been amicably resolved around 6 pm and the two sides decided to observe utmost restraint. The BSF had been forced to rush reinforcements to the clash site in South Binajpur district in West Bengal and the entire 4,000-km Indo-Bangla border had been put on high alert.

The BSF sub-inspector, kidnapped by jawans of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), was handed over unharmed to the Indian side this evening. The ministry of external affairs has been in constant touch with the Bangladeshi authorities ever since the firing incident occurred.

According to PTI, the Bangladesh Rifles resorted to heavy firing along the South Dinajpur border, which started at 1 pm and lasted for 15 minutes, BSF sources said, adding that the Indian border guards also returned the fire.

A Class VII student was injured in when jawans of the Bangladesh Rifles opened fire on the BSF, BSF officials and SP Kalyan Mullick said.

The student, identified as Pinku Roy, succumbed to the bullet injury in a hospital.

In Malda, the border guards of the two countries were engaged in a gunbattle for an hour this morning after the Bangladesh Rifles opened fire on the BSF, which had launched an operation to trace its sub-inspector Om Prakash who was allegedly kidnapped by the jawans of Bangladesh Rifles in the Patiram area in Malda district, BSF officials in Shillong said.

Director-general of the BSF A.K. Mitra said three jawans of the Bangladesh Rifles and a Bangladeshi civilian suffered bullet injuries while a BSF constable was also hit during the exchange of fire.

Om Prakash, who was taken away by the Bangladesh Rifles to its North Agra camp, was later handed back at a flag meeting this afternoon.

Ironically, the firing incident took place just four days after top officials of the BSF and the BDR met at Bogra in Bangladesh and resolved to maintain peace in the border areas and not resort to open fire during daytime except for self-defence.

Today’s BSF-BDR bloody clash once again points to the tough test Indian diplomacy is facing in Bangladesh where the euphoria created by the exit of Khaleda Zia’s government and installation of an India-friendly caretaker government is fast wearing off. A year after Fakhruddin Ahmed took over as chief adviser of Bangladesh’s non-party caretaker government, the Indian diplomacy finds itself in a back-to-square-one position.

The India-baiting that followed Indian humanitarian aid in response to Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh gave a fair idea of shape of things to come for Indo-Bangladesh relations. The Cyclone Sidr devastated Bangladesh last November after three successive years of major flooding. India was the first country to react with humanitarian assistance even at its own cost.



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