Pakistan uses Bangladesh as transit route for FICN smuggling: BSF DG

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New Delhi : Border Security Force (BSF) Director General K.K. Sharma on Friday launched a veiled attack on Pakistan accusing it of using Bangladesh as a transit route to smuggle fake Indian currency into India.

However, he claimed that the menace has come down since demonetisation.

Only 11 lakh Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) have been seized so far this year and these were easily detectable because of its poor quality, Sharma said while addressing a joint press briefing with his visiting Bangladeshi counterpart Major General Shafeenul Islam, Director General, Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB).

Islam is heading a 14-member BGB delegation to India since September 3 to attend a five-day 47th DG-level bi-annual conference. The Chiefs of the two forces also signed a joint record of discussion on Friday before the BGB delegation left for Bangladesh.

Appreciating the efforts of BGB to curb the menace, the BSF DG said: "The BGB is also very alert and whenever they seize the FICN they try to find out where it is coming from. Mostly we find that Bangladesh territory is being used as a transit route for FICN smuggling. And, these fake notes come from our other friendly neighbour on the western side."

"The quantum of smuggled FICN has come down since demonetisation and the quality also is not very good. Only 11 lakhs FICN has been seized this year so far. If we see the entire economy of the country, it is nothing. Earlier, the seizures in the entire years used to be in crores," Sharma said.

He also sought Islam's further cooperation in detecting FICN units operating in Bangladesh and launching legal prosecution against the culprits.

Acknowledging that FICN is a concern in Bangladesh too, Islam said: "We have installed our vigilance all along the borders, including machines to detect such notes. We have been constantly able to reduce the transaction of FICN".

On Rohingya status, the BGB Chief said "we are keeping them confined to some specific areas allocated for them but yet there are some cases in which they are found slipping out and located at some other places in Bangladesh".

The BSF DG, however, said a large number of Rohingyas were there in Bangladesh and from time to time some groups did try to enter India. "We did not let them in," he said.

"So, there has not been any large scale influx of Rohingyas into India," he said.

"Whatever Rohingyas are already there in the country, they are also under pressure at some places. So they are going to West Bengal which is likely (to be) friendly with them. They (West Bengal) even created camps for the Rohingyas coming from within the country not from Bangladesh."

Both the the Chiefs of the two forces, during the DG-level talks, also expressed their satisfaction in approval of almost all pending developmental works and lauded the results of crime free zones which had been introduced in South Bengal Frontier, South West Region and agreed for its further expansion in other frontiers.

They also agreed to take strong measures for prevention of illegal border crossing and human trafficking, and providing aid to victims of human trafficking and facilitating their early rescue and rehabilitation.

They agreed to bring down violence on the border to zero level, take preventive measures against wilful violation of the sanctity of the International Boundary (IB) which would be dealt as per law of the land. Inadvertent crossers would be handed over to the concerned border guarding force immediately.

The BSF Chief said as his force was asked by the Indian Government to use non-lethal weapons to avoid deaths "there has not been a single death on the borders this year so far".

On the issue of trafficking, he said 1,522 illegal Bangladeshi migrants have been caught in India and handed over to the police. Of them, 166 were inadvertent crossers.

On migration of Bangladeshis into India, BGB DG said: "There is no large infiltration from Bangladesh. Some people migrate because some of their relatives are residing across border. But they all come back after visiting their relatives. We have apprehended around 100 in the last six months. But we are very alert in maintaining the sanctity of the India-Bangladesh border."

DG BSF sought cooperation from BGB to eliminate rampant Indian insurgent groups while the BGB DG informed there was no hideout of such groups inside Bangladesh. He clarified that his country "does not allow its soil to be used by any entities or elements hostile to any country".

Both sides appreciated the efforts made to improve mutual relations through various agreed upon Confidence Building Measures and decided that next DG-level conference would be held in Dhaka in the month of March-April 2019.