Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday urged the Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) to work with utmost honesty and sincerity to free the country from the onslaughts of militancy, terrorism and drug.
“You have to work with sincerity and honesty so that drug cannot enter our country and our country cannot be used as the route of drug smuggling,” she told a ‘BGB Darbar’ at Pilkhana following the hosting of flags of newly raised BGB Ramu Region Headquarters and two new BGB battalions at Narayangonj and Gazipur.
The Prime Minister said drug addiction of children is pushing many families to complete destruction.
She said her government has a plan to establish four more BGB sectors, 10 battalions, dog training and breeding units and new training institutions.
An air wing of the BGB has been created aimed at strengthening the organizational base and operational capacities of the force. Two helicopters are being purchased soon for the air wing, she said.
BGB Director General Major General Md Shafeenul Islam gave welcome address while Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and senior military and civil officials were present.
Addressing the Darbar, the prime minister highlighted the steps taken by her government for the development of the BGB. She highly appreciated the role of the border force in curbing border smuggling.
“As a discipline force, BGB has acquired the confidence of the people,” she said and disclosed her government’s plan to set up a BGB battalion in every 75 kilometers of the border area and set up a BOP in every five kilometers.
The prime minster said the process of setting up two river battalions are going on for patrolling in the river areas near the Naaf River and the Sundarbans forest. Four highly sophisticated vessels are being procured for this purpose.
She said initiatives were taken to build Border Road while Border Surveillance and Response System, with modern technologies and vehicles, is being set up in about 328-kilometer area including Cox’s Bazar border.
In order to improve housing facilities of the BGB members, the Prime Minister said, 237 BOP buildings, 16 soldiers barracks, 63 flats for officers, 112 flats for junior officers, 300 flats for the staff of other posts and 17 GCO mess were constructed. Solar panels were installed in 333 BOPs having no access to grid line.
The government has taken a project for construction of 36 flats at Pilkhana for the officers, 448 flats for other BGB members, 60 new BOP buildings on the border and barbed fences around 578 BOP for their safety, she said.
Recalling the role of border guard members in the War of Liberation, the Prime Minister said responding to the call of the Father of the Nation in the very first hour of March 26, 1971, the then border security force EPR started resisting the Pakistan army. Members of the EPR reached Bangabandhu’s message of the announcement of independence to the remote areas of the country through wireless communication.
About 12,500 Bengali soldiers of the erstwhile EPR took part in the War of Liberation and 8,274 soldiers embraced martyrdom. Two EPR Bir Shreshthas – Shahid Lance Nayek Nur Mohammad Sheikh and Shahid Lance Nayek Munshi Abdur Rauf – are our pride, she said, adding that eight Bir Uttams, 32 Bir Bikrams and 77 Bir Pratiks showed their valiance in the War of Liberation, enriching the history of the BGB.
Sheikh Hasina paid tributes to 57 army officers who were martyred during a mutiny of soldiers at Pilkhana on February 25-26 in 2009, only 19 days after formation of her government.
However, the government had quickly solved the problem and went through a plan for complete restructuring of the force. As part of the restructuring plan, the BDR has been renamed as BGB and various steps have been taken for the development of the BGB including framing the BGB Act 2010.
Under the plan, the Prime Minister, said four new regions, four new sectors, 15 battalions and the ICT battalion were established and the force’s intelligence agency has been reformed.
Sheikh Hasina said the BGB battalions at Narayanganj and Gazipur have already started their activities with limited manpower and the process of raising battalions at Savar and Abdullapur (Keraniganj) areas are progressing.
The government has already approved more 15,000 manpower for BGB and four more sectors, 10 battalions, dog training and breeding unit and new training institution would be established, she said. Pointing out the steps taken by her government for the welfare of the BGB members, the Prime Minister said the BGB welfare trust has been established while permission has been given for ‘Border Bank’.
A total of 25,900 soldiers and civilians including 384 women soldiers, were recruited in the BGB while 34,455 members have got promotion, she said.
The activities of adjustment of the wage discrimination of the members of the BGB with other forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs are at the final stage, the prime minister said.
BGB members from the lowest position to Subedar Major are getting border allowance, and being granted two months Earned Leave (EL) annually with advance salary. Their ration benefit and spice allowance were also increased.
Sheikh Hasina praised the hard work of the BGB members on Bangladesh-Myanmar border, saying her government approved the establishment of Ramu Region Headquarters in July last year taking into consideration various issues on Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
In August of that year, due to unstable situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the Rohingyas fled their country and took shelter in the border areas of Bangladesh.
BGB members are working very professionally in the biometric registration program and the overall management of the Rohingya camps.
“The important and great responsibility of protecting the border of the country is entrusted upon you. It is your sacred responsibility to keep the highest signature of your patriotism and honesty while working on the border,” the Prime Minister told the BGB members.