India, Bangladesh conduct first ever joint exercises in Sundarbans

Sunderbans

As India and Bangladesh seek to improve coordination in border management and creating deterrence against cross-border smuggling, the two countries conducted their first ever joint exercises in the Sundarbans.  India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh’s Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) held the joint drill “Sundarbans Maitri” with troopers, including dog and bomb squads. They carried out joint searches of cargo vessels on the Ichamati river.

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka in June 2015, the relations between India and Bangladesh has been on an upward trajectory. The two countries have intensified cooperation in a host of areas including defence and security.

Congratulating both forces for conducting the joint exercise successfully on March 12-13, senior officials of the BSF and BGB said that the exercises could become a regular affair in the future.

“The drill can be a big deterrent to smugglers and criminals who will have to deal with the combined efforts of both the forces,” Colonel Khandekar Farid Hassan, Region Commander BGB onboard the floating border outpost (BOP) Kamakhya said.

The officials of both sides said that they plan to extend the joint exercise on land as well to make it a part of coordinated border management plan.

In recent times, smuggling at the border has come down considerably. BSF and BGB officials say that the smuggling of cattle has come down by nearly 60 to 70 percent. In February, the BSF had seized fake Indian currency notes. The BSF also held a man for allegedly trying to smuggle foreign currency in two different operations on the Bangladesh border.

The Indian government’s decision to ban Phensedyl is likely to help the forces to stop smuggling of the cough syrup from India to Bangladesh. “Now with the substance being banned, this will strengthen our hands,” Inspector General, South Bengal frontier Sandeep Salunkhe said.