‘Cross-border crime up after Bangladesh Rifles mutiny’

April 11th, 2009 - 3:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, April 11 (IANS) Cross-border movement of criminals, and trafficking of illicit goods including small arms “increased alarmingly” in the days following February’s mutiny by troopers of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), according to an internal security report.
National security is likely to be affected by the recent development, and trafficking of illegal weapons might rise taking advantage of it, The Daily Star said Friday, citing the report, submitted to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other high authorities of the government early April.

Bangladesh has a volatile, partly riverine 4,000-plus km border with India and 300 km with Myanmar.

However, BDR Director General Major General Mohammed Mainul Islam told the newspaper that the number of illegal cross-border activities “has been dropping fast with the increasing activities of the border security force, initiated lately.”

“Our border patrol activities have increased with the passage of time. We’ve tightened control on the border areas resulting in arrests of illegal intruders and seizure of illegal goods,” he said.

The two-day mutiny that virtually left the international border unguarded, led to the killing of 81 people, including 55 Bangladesh Army officers serving with the BDR on deputation.

The report observed that the post-BDR mutiny period had been marked by sharp increase of different illegal activities across all the country’s frontiers. It identified the illegal activities as trafficking of women and children, and illicit narcotics, and smuggling of arms and ammunition.

It mentioned that the price of a bottle of illicit narcotic, phensydil, had been around 700 Taka ($10) before the mutiny in the BDR headquarters, the price of which nose dived to around 350 Taka ($5) since then, due to massive increase in inbound smuggling of the drug.

The report points to continuing confusion and a sense of insecurity.

“Since most of the members of different battalions of BDR were either directly or indirectly involved in the mutiny and lawlessness of Feb 25 and 26, so most of them are in a state of confusion and dilemma about their careers and future until the investigation is over. That is why many of them are not playing an active role in guarding the borders and in curbing smuggling.”

Quoting anonymous sources, the report mentioned: “Keeping in mind the uncertainty over their future, some of them are even trying to ensure a future by getting themselves involved in cross-border smuggling.”

The report has noted that many army officers deputed to the BDR are carrying out their duties staying in nearest cantonments or circuit houses or rest houses, instead of staying at their command posts, as they are feeling insecure.

The new BDR chief however said the officers are closely monitoring the situation by taking over their command positions, which, he said, boosted the morale of the troopers. “Now the situation at the borders is under our total control,” Islam said.

The security report advised the government to initiate coordinated efforts at the foreign and home affairs ministries levels with India and Myanmar to ensure meaningful security at the border areas. The report also advised the government for strengthening the activities of all internal law enforcement agencies in light of the border situation.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |