The director general of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) has labelled the Bangladeshis killed in the firings along the border as criminal.

“The deceased are involved with drug peddling and other crimes. (This is why) all the firings took place at night,” BSF DG Pankaj Kumar Singh told reporters at a joint press briefing in Dhaka on Thursday.

He earlier attended a DG-level border conference at the headquarters of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) at Pilkhana in Dhaka.

Asked about such a claim and why the incidents would not be tagged as targeted killing when the deceased were shot in the upper portion of their bodies, the BSF boss said no one can be described as a criminal until the offences are substantiated by the judiciary.

“We talk to the BSF members, Kolkata police and communicate with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP). We share intelligence information. Some 'mafia' are involved with smuggling on both sides of the border,” he added.

Noting that there are both good and bad people in the bordering areas of two neighboring nations, he said these people are responsible for the crimes along the border. The incidents of smuggling and illegal border crossing are taking place due to these people.

Those who are involved in cattle smuggling, human trafficking cross the border illegally, he added.

The BSF DG further said that the Indian border guards initially use non-lethal weapons so that the injuries do not become deadly.

Pointing out that the relationship with BGB is now better than ever before, he said, "We are jointly working to suppress border crimes and bring border killings to zero."

All the border talks discuss prevention of border killing, but it remained unabated in the bordering areas. Some five Bangladeshis were killed in the bordering areas in June.

When his attention was drawn to this issue, Pankaj Kumar Singh said this question comes to the fore every year. The border forces of two countries regularly discuss at various levels about prevention of border killings.

“Our relations with Bangladesh is quite different. Even it is different from the western nations,” he added.