BSF at it again
AFTER shooting, stoning, beating and torturing, running speedboats over victims, it appears that the latest method being resorted to by the Border Security Forces of India to kill unarmed Bangladeshis is stabbing and chopping. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Friday, a 32-year-old Bangladeshi cattle trader was stabbed and chopped to death by the BSF at Kaijuri Border in India near Satkhira early Thursday. According to rights-based organization Odhikar, from January to March 2012, six Bangladeshi citizens have been killed, 26 Bangladeshi citizens injured and 19 allegedly abducted by the BSF. Moreover, the Indian border guards have so far killed 935 Bangladeshis since January 2000, and 220 since the Awami League-led government assumed office in January 2009. Add to that the brutal torture of Habibur Rahman in February, a Bangladeshi young man from Chapainawabganj, by the BSF, caught on camera and shown on Indian television, which caused uproar in Bangladesh, in conscious sections of Indian society, and amongst the international human rights watchdogs. Further adding insult to injury came the words of the BSF director general that ‘firing in the border can never be stopped totally… So long criminal activities would continue to take place along the India-Bangladesh border’ during an interview with BBC Bangla on February 7.
From the joint communiqué issued during prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Delhi in 2010, to Manmohan Singh’s visit in September 2011, to an agreement on the use of non-lethal weapons signed between the two border guard chiefs of two countries in March 2011, it would be fair to say that the Bangladeshi government has tried to lay their concern about border killings at the highest level of the Indian government and received assurances at equal measure. However, the Indian authorities appear almost disdainful in ignoring all the pledges made to Bangladesh and in recent months the situation has gotten much worse, with Indian border guards resorting to new and more heinous forms of torture and killing on unarmed Bangladeshis.
While Bangladeshis have always felt aggrieved at the killing of unarmed Bangladeshis along the border, the events in recent months have forced public opinion to such a low that if it is not addressed immediately it may cause prolonged damage to future relations with India, at least in the perception of ordinary people. Bangladeshi people feel dismayed and betrayed at the state of affairs. Given the prevailing situation, time has come to seriously question the commitment of the Indian government and its authorities to address the issue of the killing and torture of Bangladeshis along the border, which is also an ‘insult’ to the notion of friendly relations. The Bangladeshi government would be well-advised to revisit their relations with the big neighbour and make India diplomatically accountable for failing to respect the rights of Bangladeshi citizens.
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