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Sugar-smuggling issue dramatised by NGOs with vested interest: BSF

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Curtain comes down on 4-day BSF-BGB conference;
issues of bilateral interest taken up

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, July 4: Coming down heavily on the “exaggeration” of the sugar-smuggling in Meghalaya, the Border Security Force (BSF), Meghalaya Frontier, on Thursday contented that the NGOs with vested interest are blowing the issue of sugar-smuggling out of proportion on social media.
Speaking to reporters here on Thursday after the culmination of a four-day BSF-BGB coordination conference, the Inspector General (IG) of the BSF Meghalaya Frontier, Harbax Singh Dhillon, said that the NGOs were trying to project an exaggerated picture of the situation of sugar-smuggling, which, he maintained, was different from the ground reality.
“Some NGO groups like to project things in an enhanced manner on social media and the problem may not be to that extent,” the BSF IG said.
Dhillon then accentuated the need for the NGOs to rather educate the local population, and abstain from involving in such practices.
“There is a need for people to look at other kinds of livelihood. People in the border villages should focus more on education. We also need to help people to look at alternative livelihood,” he said.
Dhillon also informed that the manpower strength of the BSF Meghalaya had temporarily dwindled recently in view of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
He, however, informed that since the BSF manpower has returned to normalcy following the culmination of the Lok Sabha election, the Force expects the incidence of sugar-smuggling to come down further.
“It is going to come down more with the increase in the number of forces who are deployed to man the border,” Dhillon said.
The BSF Meghalaya IG then informed that the Force has already conferred at length about the issue with the chief minister, the deputy chief minister, the chief secretary and the Meghalaya DGP.
Informing that the issue was also taken up with the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) during the coordination conference, Dhillon said the BSF is committed to bring down the smuggling of sugar to the bare minimum.
Other issues that were taken up with the BGB, according to the BSF IG, include the smuggling of contraband items, goods, and arms and ammunitions.
“Smuggling is not something new. Both the BSF and BGB have discussed issues in a detailed manner and hopefully, things are going to be in place,” he added.
Meanwhile, the BSF Meghalaya IG also informed that the Force is proposing some kind of relaxation in the recruitment of people from bordering villages.
Pressing issues that were taken up during the meet
During the conference, both the forces from India and Bangladesh held deliberations over numerous issues that were plaguing the porous international border.
According to a statement from the BSF, various issues of bilateral interest were discussed at length.
“Special emphasis was given to focus issues particularly insurgent activities, various transborder crimes including smuggling of contraband items like psychotropic drugs and narcotic substances, border violation, and pending infrastructural/developmental works, besides common Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP),” the statement said.
During the conference, heads of both delegations deliberated and reemphasised to jointly evolve viable solutions to various bilateral issues being confronted by both the Forces for creating an environment of peace and tranquillity along the international border.
It is pertinent to note that the last border coordination conference was held at Chattogram, Bangladesh, in September 2023.

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