BSF, Pak. Rangers To Check Border Firing

10 September 2015
The Hindu
Vijaita Singh

New Delhi: In a sign of thaw, the Border Security force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers have decided to 'allow maintenance of the existing defence-related construction' along the border. While no new construction will be allowed, each force will allow the other to carry out maintenance work of the border outposts (BOP) and observation points on the zero line, top sources told The Hindu. A Pakistan Rangers team, which is here to attend Director-General-level talks, said it was primarily India's responsibility to plug the gaps that led to tensions and cross-border firing, because the BSF had 'three times their force' along the 2,308-km border. The two forces decided to devise a mechanism of 'enhanced detection and communication' immediately to check any 'ceasefire violation and cross-border firing' at the ground level and 'nip it in the bud'. For this, effective communication channels were being worked out. Pointing this out, Pakistan raised the massive pounding on border settlements by the BSF in the Jammu sector in January, which reportedly started after the Rangers objected to a defence structure being constructed on 150 yards of land (where no construction is allowed) beyond the zero line. The cross-border firing resulted in the death of a BSF jawan and four Pakistan Rangers, besides the displacement of 10,000 people on the Indian side. Four-hour talks Director-General D.K. Pathak led the BSF team in the talks. Major-General Umar Farooq Burqi led the 16-member Pakistan Rangers delegation. The talks continued for over four hours. The meeting assumes significance in the wake of the cancelled talks between the National Security Advisers last month. In an unprecedented move, the two forces decided to meet on Friday too, though the talks were over on Thursday. They would sit across the table and iron out the remaining glitches. 'Pakistan was extremely supportive of our observations, and they seemed to agree with us on most of the issues. They admitted that the drug menace was as big a problem for them as it was for us, as drugs were being smuggled into their country from the Afghanistan border,' a senior government official said. The BSF chief is learnt to have told the Rangers that they should start afresh and there was no point in raking up the past. An officer said the Pakistani delegation was 'submissive' this time. A Pakistani government official said: 'We told the BSF that you have the best of gadgets and infrastructure. If an activity is taking place along the border, it was their job to inform them and stop it immediately. They admitted there were still some gaps and they were trying to fill them.'