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Border issues top agenda during India and Bangladesh home ministers meeting

New Delhi, Fri, 24 Feb 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Feb 24 (ANI): Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday held an all-important meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Shahara Khatun in New Delhi.


Terming the meeting as cordial, Chidambaram said a number of issues were discussed, of which border management topped the list.


Addressing mediapersons at a joint press conference Chidambaram said: "At the moment after we liberalised the visa regime, we have issued for example in 2011, 50 lakh visas to Bangladeshis. So I think much of the problem of illegal migration has been resolved by quickening the process of issue of visas and increase in the number of visas that are given to Bangladeshis."


"There is really no reason for any Bangladeshi to cross over illegally but I do admit that some crossings do take place, we have to strengthen the border management and as part of border management we did address this problem also," he added.


He further said that the terms of the extradition treaty between the two countries would be finalised soon so as to enable swift exchange of criminals and expedite the juristic processes.


"The extradition treaty is on the final stages of consideration by the government of Bangladesh and I think it is moving forward. As far as the persons who are alleged to have been part of the conspiracy to kill Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (former President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh). Some names have been given to India some time ago and efforts are being made by the government of West Bengal to trace them. If we trace those people, I think there are legal ways, in which they can be sent back to Bangladesh," said Chidambaram.


Meanwhile, Bangladesh Home Minister said that India has assured to cooperate over the issue of cross border firing.


Cross-border firing between Indian and Bangladeshi paramilitary forces has been a key focus of talks between their chiefs amid pledges to scale back confrontation.


"Regarding the last incident of cross border firing, India has promised to punish the guilty from their side. We are grateful for this to the government of India and home minister," said Khatun.


Chidambaram responded by saying that there has been a 'dramatic decline' in incidents of firing at the borders since July 2011.


He asserted India's stand that killings on border should be brought to an end.


"We don't want this to continue, we want this to become zero. Thankfully beginning calendar year 2012 in the last seven weeks there has been no incident and I want to keep that at that level for the rest of the year. The home ministry and the DG BSF has reiterated instructions on the February 16 to all his ranks. We have identified 23 BOPs (border out post) where we will strengthen the force on our side and they will strengthen the force on their side," he said.


Reacting over the issue of handing over of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militant Anup Chetia, who is in the Bangladesh's custody, Khatun assured that repatriation would take place soon.


"There is absolutely no problem. We are committed to delivering these people to the government of India but as you know like in India, Bangladesh also has a legal process to follow. It is working its way through the courts and as soon as the court process is over you will have them. We have no intention of holding them one day more than necessary," said Khatun.


Answering a reporter's question on whether Bangladesh was allowing anti India activists to thrive on its soil, Khatun said that her country is also a victim of militancy like its neighbour and it does not harbour any such elements.


The two ministers also discussed the issues of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, visa and repatriation of prisoners.


Bangladesh and India share a border of over 3,908 kilometres that has often been used for illegal trade and illegal migration for which the Indian security forces has a shoot at sight policy for trespassers.


So far hundreds of Bangladesh nationals have been killed at the hands of security officials during their efforts to cross the border. (ANI)


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