The South Bengal Frontier of the BSF, which guards the international border, had till the end of last week, apprehended 1,172 Bangladeshi nationals who were trying to infiltrate into India. The corresponding figure for 2016 was 2,643, while for 2015, it was 5,028.
Bangladesh and India share a 4,150 km long international border, out of which 2,200 km is in West Bengal, 856 km in Tripura, 443 km in Meghalaya, 262 km is in Assam and 180 km in Mizoram.
“The instances of infiltration have definitely come down from this side. We have increased the vigil substantially in the last couple of years and with the border fencing too going on, the ‘windows’ through which infiltrators enter to India is becoming smaller with every passing day,” an official with the BSF said.
Out of the total India-Bangladesh border, fencing has been completed along a 3,000 km stretch. Of the remaining 1,050 km, almost 600 km are in West Bengal alone, where no significant progress has been made. “We are facing issues from the West Bengal government when it comes to land acquisition, which is needed for the fencing to come up, hence the process is a bit slow. We have adopted an aggressive approach towards infiltrators and last year, close to 4,000 rounds were fired to scare away the infiltrators,” an official of the BSF said.
Officials said that a large part of the Bangla-West Bengal border is riverine and rivers running along the Indo-Bangladesh border also serve as the border. For instance, 70 km of the south Bengal frontier, from South 24 Parganas to Malda, is mostly riverine. “These are the main points through which infiltration occurs and we are using additional manpower and equipment to cover these stretches”, the official said.
However, Home Ministry officials said that the number of infiltrators caught, which has shown a decreasing trend, may not present an accurate picture. “Infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals is going on, including that of the members of radical terror groups. Two things can possibly explain this decreasing trend, either the infiltrators and the handlers are using some other route to enter India or somehow they are escaping the eyes of the security personnel and are able to enter India without getting caught,” a senior MHA official said.