Bangladeshi Border Guards on Thursday said they fired in “self defence”, hours after an Indian Border Security Force jawan was killed and another suffered injuries after a “flag meeting” incident between the two sides, PTI reported. Earlier in the day, Bangladeshi troops opened fire on a BSF party that was looking for a missing Indian fishermen allegedly captured by the BGB.

In a statement, released late on Thursday, the BGB said their patrolling team had attempted to detain three Indian fishermen who had come inside Bangladeshi waters in an engine-run boat, but two of them managed to escape. Following this, four armed BSF soldiers, including one in uniform, came inside 650 yards of Bangladesh’s territory with a speedboat to bring back the detained fishermen.

The incident occurred in Balughat’s Shahariaghat area of Baral River in Rajshahi. The Indian fishermen were seen fishing in the Padma river around 11 am on Thursday. A Charghat Border Outpost team along with Charghat Upazila Fisheries Department’s Field Assistant Abu Raihan and two others approached the fishermen and detained one of them, Dhaka Tribune reported.

The Bangladeshi side said they told the BSF that the matter could be resolved through a flag meeting, which is protocol. They also said that the BSF troops would be handed over to authorities after the meeting as they had intruded inside the Bangladesh border.

“The BSF men then turned furious and opened gunfire and started going back to their [Indian] territory,” the statement from the BGB said. “The BGB patrol team fired gunshots in self-defence amid gunfire by the BSF men.” Bangladeshi soldiers said they later found out at a commander-level meeting that a BSF soldier was killed and another injured.

BGB 1 Commander Lt Col Ferdous Ziauddin Mahmud also confirmed that four BSF soldiers had “illegally made their way to confront” the Bangladeshi patrol team and demanded the fisherman’s release. “At that time, BGB patrol team informed them that both the detainee and the BSF men would be handed over to the BSF through a flag meeting as all of them were trespassing,” he said. “The BSF members became nervous and opened fire on the BGB members, and tried to snatch the detained fisherman.”

The BSF commandant and his Bangladeshi counterpart agreed to look into the incident, the BGB said, adding the meeting was conducted peacefully and more discussion will be held.

On Friday, the BSF refuted allegations of the Bangladeshi side and said BGB’s action towards the party was unprovoked. “Our men have not fired a single bullet,” an unidentified BSF official told PTI. “It was an unprovoked action by the BGB that killed the BSF jawan and injured [the] other.”

The BSF official also said that a party of six soldiers had entered 400 metres inside the international border, which the officer claimed was the “designated place for flag meeting”.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal described the incident as “unexpected”, adding that it occurred as the BSF troops had entered more than 500 yards inside Bangladeshi territory.

In Thursday’s incident, Head Constable Vijay Bhan Singh was killed after being shot in the head while the other constable was hospitalised with injuries on his hand. The third fisherman, identified as Pranab Mandal, is reportedly still in the custody of the BGB.

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