India-Bangladesh infiltration: Is the threat to country's borders real?

Infiltration was a major poll issue during the Assam Assembly elections that were held earlier this year. In fact, infiltration has been a cause for concern for the past four decades. So much so that the Union government has promised to seal and fence (not very unlike Donald Trump) the India-Bangla border in Assam within a year.

The move is aimed at curbing cross-border crime and checking trans-border movement of militants, according to Union Home Ministry's Border Management Secretary Susheel Kumar. He added that the government had a different approach depending on India's bordering countries — Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Meghalaya has over 100 "gaps" consisting of drains, rivers and streams, apart from an unfenced 90-km stretch along the 443-kilometre border with Bangladesh.

Porous borders in Eastern India are problematic. PTI

Porous borders in Eastern India are problematic. PTI

Bangladesh, however, has a different story to tell.

According to this report by The Indian Express, the Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal rejected the charges of infiltration, specifically of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terrorists, through Tura border in Meghalaya into India. Kamal further said that their borders have been sealed and that there were no chances of terrorists crossing over to India through Meghalaya.

The JMB is reportedly spreading its base in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Assam.

Perhaps, there's no infiltration in Meghalaya, but in April this year, seven alleged 'jihadis' affiliated to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh were arrested from western Assam's Chirang district, for allegedly setting up a camp for imparting physical and weapons training to the outfit's cadres.

The Indian Express report added that an alert was sounded in Garo Hills in Meghalaya and some districts in Assam, following reports of infiltration of five suspected terrorists from Bangladesh.

Following the killing of 20 hostages in a terror attack at a restaurant in Dhaka, the BSF was put on "very high alert" along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya.

The threat of terror to India's north eastern states is quite real, analyses Kangkan Acharyya in this piece for Firstpost. He writes,

The three bordering districts of Assam namely Dhuburi, Karimaganj and Cachar are infamous for having porous borders. It is widely believed that the porous borders of Assam have been the routes through which terror groups set foot in India to train and radicalise local youths.

A report in India Today said that the three bordering districts of Assam — Dhuburi, Karimaganj and Cachar — were known for its porous borders and those were the routes through which terror groups set foot in India to train and radicalise local youngsters.

Acharyya added said that "Assam police received information about these infiltrators on 3 July after the Gulshan attack. A source in the Assam police has said that people entering Assam are likely to be JMB millitants who are connected to the attack. After Bangladesh police launched a search operation, they (the militants) are trying to flee from the neighbouring country. So they might be the people who supported the terrorists involved in the Gulshan attack."

He also added that a major part of the India-Bangla border is still "porous. The route through which they are sent to have entered is mostly non-fenced".

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jul 08, 2016 16:21:09 IST

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