India-Bangladesh high level border talks

India and Bangladesh will hold high-level border talks today in Dhaka. Along the 4,096-kilometre shared border, cattle and drug smuggling

India Bangladesh

Photo: Pinaki Das/Al Jazeera

India and Bangladesh will hold high-level border talks today in Dhaka.

Along the 4,096-kilometre shared border, cattle and drug smuggling as well as undocumented immigration present major challenges. To address these issues, Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have hosted biannual meetings and, in December, they agreed to make all possible efforts to curb smuggling.

Border killings are likely to be a prominent topic of discussion today. BSF previously adopted a “shoot-on-sight” policy along the border. This policy, according to Bangladeshi government reports, has led to 294 Bangladeshi civilians killed between 2009 and 2018. In an April 2018 accord, BSF and BGB agreed to refrain from using lethal weapons in cases of border crossing, however border killings increased threefold in 2019. BSF also reassured that killings would drop when cattle smuggling stopped. However, even after Bangladesh’s 2019 ban in imported cattle, 25 people were killed in the first half of 2020.

Expect Bangladesh to strongly push for India to commit to zero-deaths along the border. If border killings continue at pace following this meeting, bilateral cooperation along the border can be expected to deteriorate, presenting grave humanitarian and security implications in South Asia’s eastern pocket.