September 27, 2016 10:05:05 pm
The Border Security Force (BSF) has placed orders for acquisition of non-lethal weapons to arm its personnel to control transborder crimes along the porous India-Bangladesh frontier, at a time when its use is under debate.
BSF commanders, who man over 915 km-long South Bengal frontier out of the total 4,096-km international border (IB) between the two countries, told PTI that over 500 Pump Action Guns (PAGs) will soon be provided to them while around 1,500 would be sent to five other frontier areas along the IB in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
At present, the BSF’s South Bengal frontier unit is already in possession of about 500 PAGs and their success has prompted field commanders to order more such weapons. As part of its effort to enhance security along the riverine areas at this border, six new shipping vessels called the “floating border out-posts” will also be deployed in the 9,630 sqkm Sunderbans delta area for use by the BSF, officials said.
There are already three such vessels on rivers like Icchamati, Raimangal and Bhagirathi to launch patrol boats and armed troops. “The BSF is being provided with more PAGs under the non-lethal weapons category in order to make sure that border killings are kept at minimum. The total number of new weapons that would be provided is about 2,000. Even PAGs are fired under gravest of provocation and threat to life of a guard. These guns have been found to be very effective,” a senior official said.
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As per the data, this year till August, BSF personnel had fired a total of 1,465 PAG rounds along the entire Indo-Bangla border while only 96 bullets from lethal weapons, like INSAS rifles, were used to check cross-border crimes during the same period.
In 2015, a total of 2,385 PAG rounds were fired while only 150 bullets were fired from lethal weapons. The figure for 2014 stood at 1,517 PAG rounds and just 71 bullets.
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“So, while there is a debate over the effectiveness of non-lethal weapons and pellet guns in Kashmir, such guns are a hit at this border. However, non-lethal weapons in Kashmir valley are used for crowd control while at the Indo-Bangla border, for checking transborder crimes,” they said.
Officials said apart from PAGs, BSF would also be getting a fresh lot of chilli grenades, stun grenades and dye marker shells.
A PAG works by firing a shot that is made of reinforced fibre components and works to injure or paralyse a person as compared to a metal bullet fired by a regular lethal weapon that seriously maims or kills a person.
India and Bangladesh had agreed to the use of non-lethal weapons by the border guarding forces at the Home Minister-level talks in February 2012. The officials further said the six new floating border outposts would add muscle to the BSF water wing in ensuring security of the riverine IB areas. At present, the BSF is in possession of three such platforms built by the Mazagaon Docks Limited.
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