BSF Killings, the culture of impunity continues

FILES-INDIA-BANGLADESH-POLITICS

By Talukder Shaheb

Pankaj Saran, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, Wednesday claimed that no incident of killing took place on Bangladesh-India border in the last six months. On being reminded that two Bangladeshis had been killed today, he replied that “I confess that a couple of killings took place on the border despite India’s carefulness in this regard. Not a single incident of border killing could be termed legal. India is taking administrative initiatives to stop border killings”.

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) shot 2 Bangladeshi cattle traders dead while injuring two others at Putkhali frontier near Benapole early Wednesday.. The victims were identified as Faruque Hossain, 26, of Basatpur colony and Habibur Rahman, 25, residence of Barupota village of Benapole.
The cowardly response of the government was to send a letter to the BSF protesting the killings.
Let us look at some facts:
In the year 2012, from January to November, 36 people were killed at the Indo-Bangladesh border, 34 of them by BSF, while 98 people were subject to injuries stemming from torture or bullet wounds, 90 of the cases being perpetrated by the BSF. A total of 64 abductions took place in the same period.
From the year 2000 to 2012, the grand total summed up by Odhikar amounted to a total of 1047 people killed at the India-Bangladesh border, of which 967 was attributed to the BSF.
Felani, a 15-year-old girl, was shot dead by the Indian border guards while she was crossing into Bangladesh over the barbed-wire fences on Phulbari border in Dinajpur January 7, 2011.  The brutal killing shocked people both in Bangladesh and India and drew widespread condemnation.
More than two years have passed, but the trial of the case could not start as yet as things remained confined to exchange of letters between the two sides over procedural matters.
4 Bangladeshi cattle traders were killed by the BSF in 48 hours starting from January 1, 2013. Instead of unconditionally condemning the killings, the Home minister, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, according to media reports, indicated that the governments of Bangladesh and India have an understanding that allows the border guards to shoot in ‘self-defence’ and said that Dhaka would investigate whether the BSF ‘had opened fire in self-defence… if it was not for self-defence then necessary steps would be taken through the proper channel.’
According to information documented by Odhikar from May 1-31, several incidents of human rights violations of Bangladeshi citizens were committed by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) in May 2013. During this period, three Bangladeshis were killed and 10 were injured by the BSF along the border. Among the 10 injured persons, two were tortured and eight were shot. Furthermore, 10 Bangladeshi citizens were also abducted by the BSF.
Let me close with comments of Brad Adams, Asia Director of the HRW, which although dated, still hold fast today, “No one has been prosecuted for any of these killings, in spite of evidence in many cases that makes it clear the killings were in cold blood against unarmed and defenceless local residents. Shockingly, some Indian officials endorse shooting people who attempt to cross the border illegally, even if they are unarmed. Almost as shocking is the lack of interest in these killings by foreign governments who claim to be concerned with human rights. A single killing by US law enforcement along the Mexican border makes headlines. The killing of large numbers of villagers by Indian forces has been almost entirely ignored.”