NEW DELHI: A two-day bilateral conference of deputy commissioners/ district magistrates of India (represented by Meghalaya) and Bangladesh, which was held in Shillong concluded successfully yesterday, with the focus on border security and militancy.

The two-day meeting, attended by deputy commissioners, superintendents of police and other officials from both the sides, discussed border crimes, illegal trespass, smuggling of contrabands, border pillars or exchange of cultural and sports teams as well as events.

While the Bangladesh delegation was led by Sylhet Deputy Commissioner, Shahidul Islam; East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner Sanjay Goyal led the delegation of India.

Both the delegations agreed on the need to work in close coordination with each other with respect to the illegal activities, trade and infiltration taking place across the international border, further, stating that better exchange of information is beneficial to both the nations.

Informing that a decision has been taken in regard to keeping a tab on the common border, Indian delegation head Goyal said that it has been decided to have better exchange of information at all levels in order to achieve the aforementioned objective.

Taking a similar stance, the Bangladeshi counterpart also expressed concern over the illegalities taking place over the porous border. However, he added “Bangladesh is equally concerned about all the border issues. Together we can prevent all illegal activities in the borders of both India and Bangladesh”.

In order to strengthen the security along this border, a proposal to constitute a Joint Border Coordination Committee was also initiated on the concluding day of the meeting which would now be placed before both the Indian and the Bangladesh governments for a final decision.

According to Goyal, both the sides proposed the constitution of the Joint Border Coordination Committee with the intention of institutionalizing this kind of set up by involving the civil administration including the concerned deputy commissioners, district police chiefs and officials from the Revenue, Narcotics and Customs department.

“At present, such committee is restricted to the border forces only. But there are certain issues which are beyond the jurisdiction of the forces and can be better coordinated if the civil authorities are involved,” Goyal said.

He also added “The BSF and BGB would be part of the proposed committee”.

Further, some “action plans” have also been mutually agreed upon in order to tackle crimes along the international porous border.

Additionally, issues relating to habitual offenders were also discussed during the meeting and it was decided that such cases would be handled by the district police owing to the limited area of jurisdiction of the border forces.

Habitual offenders are those who commit petty crimes within two to three kilometers inside the border in either side.

Ample amount of time was also given to the issue of ‘Repatriation of convicted people’ on both the sides of the border.

It was decided that a list of the persons to be repatriated back to their countries would be shared in advance so that such persons can be sent home after serving their jail term.

Further, expressing serious concern over rampant use of Bangladesh SIM cards along the Indian border, the Indian side asked the visiting Bangladeshi delegation to take measures to prevent the spillover of Bangladesh mobile phone services on Indian soil.

Stating that this unhealthy trend has strengthened militancy in the north-east states, the Indian delegation head said“We are also aware that militants are using Bangladesh SIM cards. It is extremely difficult to track the movement or calls of people using the mobile network of another country”.

The delegation of Bangladesh has assured of looking into this matter and taking it up further.

On the issue of Indian militants harbouring on Bangladeshi soil, Shahidul Islam, representing their delegation uprightly denied that India-based militants were been sheltered in Bangladesh, and said that the Bangladesh Government was against any kind of militant activities.

Both the delegations seemed satisfied with the meeting and expressed hope that this bilateral meeting would cement the friendship and relationship between the two countries and the border districts.

The participating officials expected to build on these discussion and underlined the need for similar conferences in future, especially holding the next conference in Bangladesh.