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India is likely to increase its use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for border control, expanding the program from its border with Pakistan to the eastern border it shares with Bangladesh. UAVs will be used to bolster India’s efforts to curb infiltration attempts from across the porous border.
“UAVs are being used along the Western Sector to stop infiltration from across the border with Pakistan. Similarly, UAVs can also be used for monitoring of infiltration in the Eastern Sector,” India’s Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi was quoted by bdnews24, a Bangladeshi online news daily.
“The Government is working on regulations for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for civil and military purposes. This can be a good way to protect borders and maintain law and order in the country,” Mehrishi said.
India and Bangladesh share a border over 4,096 kilometres, making it the fifth longest land border in the world. Government officials have said that the Indian Home Ministry has identified some 1,138 kilometres of the border that are vulnerable to illicit crossing by migrants, smugglers, and terrorists.
As part of the effort to curb these illegal crossings, the country’s Home Ministry has so far completed the construction of a fence along 2787.35 kilometres of the border in phases I and II. Almost 1,140 kilometres, however, are yet to be fenced.
“The UAVs could be a better option to vigil those areas,” said a government official.
The border between India and Bangladesh has a long, disputed history. Beyond the issues of illicit crossings, and the deaths of hundreds of civilians along the border, the enclave question has for decades loomed over the relationship between the two countries.
More than 100 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and more than 70 Bangladeshi enclaves in India contained within them counter-enclaves – territories belonging to one country surrounded by the enclave of another – and the world’s only third-order enclave. The lives of more than 51,000 people hung in the balance, living in effective imprisonment, unable to travel beyond the border of the enclave they were born in.
This border dispute, one of the world’s strangest, is now nearing its final resolution. In 2015, the two countries switched sovereignty over the enclaves. The first move in this direction began in 1974, but was stalled until recently. The final stages of implementation are expected to be completed by July 2016.