No let-up in BSF atrocities
THE Border Security Force does not seem to be in the mood to stop killing Bangladeshis despite widespread condemnation and criticism of its excesses and atrocities, not only in Bangladesh but also in India. The Indian border sentinels have also displayed their increasing inclination towards beating their victims to death. On Wednesday, according to a report published in New Age, a 42-year-old Bangladeshi died in an Indian hospital after being picked up from the Panchagarh border and subsequently tortured by members of the BSF. The report says the BSF members of the Balabari outpost dragged the victim from no man’s land, suspended him from the branch of a tree and beat him with a stick until he lost consciousness. Later, he was handed over to the Pashchimbanga police who had him admitted to Islampur hospital where he died. Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, members of the BSF outpost at Putkhali border in Benapole caught a cattle trader and beat him up until people of his village came to his rescue; he is currently under treatment in Jessore Medical College Hospital. These two incidents could remind one of the brutal BSF torture in February of Habibur Rahman, a young man from Chapainawabganj, which was caught on camera and shown on Indian television, causing an uproar in Bangladesh, in conscious section of Indian society and among the international human rights watchdogs.
Regardless of what the Indian government of the Congress-led United Progress Alliance says and what the Bangladesh government of the Awami League-led alliance believes, the BSF seems to have made it clear — through words and deeds — that it would continue with its killing spree. On February 7, during an interview with the BBC Bangla Service, the BSF director general categorically said that ‘firing in the border can never be stopped totally… so long as criminal activities would continue to take place along the India-Bangladesh border.’ The statement simply made a mockery of the joint communiqué issued at the end of the Bangladesh prime minister’s visit to New Delhi in 2010 that urged the border guards of the two countries to exercise restraint and also an agreement between the chiefs of the border guards of the two countries in March 2001 on the use of non-lethal weapons. As indicated before, firing does not seem to be the only means for the BSF to kill Bangladeshis; it has tried stoning, beating, stabbing and even running speedboats over the victims.
As the number of Bangladeshis killed by the BSF rises (nearly 940 people since January 2000 and more than 220 since the AL-led government assumed office), it has become increasingly clear that neither Delhi nor the BSF top brass is sincere about effectively addressing Bangladesh’s concern and that their assurances and reassurances are essentially empty rhetoric. What is even more infuriating is the AL-led government’s apparent unwillingness to make its Indian counterparts diplomatically accountable for their failure to respect the rights of Bangladeshi citizens. It needs to realise that its claim of turning a new chapter in the country’s relations with India may have already lost even its rhetorical value. Hence, the incumbents would be well-advised to assert effective by the people’s concern over unabated killing by the BSF at the highest political level. Meanwhile, conscious sections of people in Bangladesh should reach out to their Indian counterparts and jointly protest against such gross violation of human rights by the BSF and sustain pressure on their respective governments for an end to it.
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