BSF-Pak Rangers meet from Sept 9, ceasefire violations, infiltration key agenda

New Delhi: Ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, including sniper attacks, infiltration, intrusion in Rann of Kutch and smuggling are among the key issues India is expected to raise with Pakistan during the five-day DG level talks between their border guarding forces from September 9. A 16-member delegation headed by Pakistan Rangers Director General (Punjab) Maj Gen Umar Farooq Burki is expected to travel to Attari-Wagah border crossing in Punjab on September 8 and later fly down from Amritsar to participate in the talks here with the Border Security Force from September 9-13, officials said.

The Indian delegation with as many members will be led by BSF chief Devendra Kumar Pathak. The Indian agenda for the talks has put extra stress on the “most important” issue of breach of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir which has led to loss of lives of civilians and troops and “unprovoked” firing by the Rangers along the IB, they said. The Indian side will also take up the issue of “no response” by the other side when BSF waves the ‘white flag’ which is used to indicate stopping of fire and meeting of on-ground commanders of the two sides.

The BSF will also take up the issue of intrusion in the ‘Harami Nallah’ area of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, smuggling of contraband from across the border and illegal movement of suspects up to the zero line area along the IB in order to facilitate illegal activities. Issues of infiltration from across the border and use of sniper weapons to target troops manning border posts will also be raised.

Pakistan had last month sent confirmation and agenda for these DG-level talks despite it calling off the meeting of the NSAs of the two countries a fortnight ago after India made it clear that Kashmiri separatist leaders would not be allowed to meet Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz during his visit here.

The Rangers in their agenda have included issues like the alleged use of objectionable language by troops on the Indian side and air space violations by suspected Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The have also listed alleged construction of defence infrastructure along the border, firing by taking aid of ‘Sarkanda’ (thick bushes), no response on Simultaneous Coordinated Patrolling (SCP) along this frontier, smuggling and apprehension and killing of civilians.

The Rangers, whose delegation will not have DG from Sindh, have also alleged that the Indian side has not been responding to their request of flag meetings when they desire and have claimed use of heavy ammunition by India during cross-border firing. The decision on meeting of NSAs and heads of border guards was taken during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif when they met in Russia’s Ufa in July.

Upon their arrival in India, the Rangers delegation will be secured by an elite commando squad of the BSF, armed with sophisticated weapons and vehicles, which has been specially chosen for the task. The BSF had earlier sent an invite for DG-level talks in early 2014. The last time the two sides met was in December 2013 when a BSF delegation travelled to Lahore.

Since then, the ties have been strained because of ceasefire violations along the International Border and the Line of Control and other issues. The Indian side would have officials drawn from border management division of the Home Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs, officials from states bordering the IB, sleuths of the Narcotics Control Bureau and those from the Survey of India among others.

The Pakistani delegation is expected to have senior officials from its security establishment including those from the Interior Ministry