Bangladesh border forces fire ‘in self-defence’ after Indian guards attempted to secure release of detained fisherman.
Bangladeshi troops have been put on high alert a day after an Indian paramilitary guard was killed and another critically wounded following an altercation over fishing at a border river.
The Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) said it fired in self-defence on Thursday after Indian border guards intruded to try to take away an Indian fisherman that Bangladesh had detained.
The incident in the Indian state of West Bengal took place after Bangladesh detained three Indian fishermen for allegedly sailing into their waters searching for Hilsa, a popular fish in regional cuisine.
Two of the fishermen were released or escaped and informed Indian border guards of their detention.
Six Indian guards then took a boat to an island on the Padma River to secure the release of the third fisherman, India’s Border Security Force (BSF) said.
The BSF said a “border guard was killed and another critically injured in firing by Bangladeshi border troops along the riverine border”.
But in a statement late on Thursday, Bangladesh said Indian troops fired first after they “forcibly tried to take the detained fisherman” and their border personnel resisted them.
The Indian soldiers “got angry and opened fire and they drove their speedboat back to India by firing all the way. Then the [BGB] patrol team fired back in self-defence,” the BGB said.
The Indian border force named the shot officer as Head Constable Vijay Bhan Singh. The second guard was taken to hospital, where he was fighting for his life.
Bangladesh said officials from both sides met after the incident and agreed to investigate the encounter and hold future talks.
On Friday, the situation at the border was “normal”, Shariful Islam a spokesman for the Bangladeshi force said.
“Our troops have been put on high alert to avoid any untoward incident,” he told Reuters news agency.
Illegal fishing is not uncommon in the Sunderbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which straddles the border of India and Bangladesh and is famous for its mangrove forest.
Thousands of people fish in the area around the year. Fishermen detained on both sides are usually released after talks between border officials.
Border relations between India and Bangladesh have been calm, and this is the first fatal incident in recent times.
The neighbours struck a series of deals this month when Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi.
They share a border stretching more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles), where clashes have intermittently erupted over what India terms “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh.