How much deep relationship needs to stop border killing
Asifiqbal Thakoor, Delhi: Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) constable Mohammad Raishuddin was killed in firing by the Indian Border Guard Force (BSF) at Dhanyakhola border in Sharsha Upazila of Jessore. The incident took place at around 5:30 am on Monday morning.
BSF has been demanded to conduct a fair investigation in this matter. Besides, it has been informed by the BGB that a ‘strong protest letter’ has been sent diplomatically to the BSF.
According to the BGB, around 5:30 in the morning yesterday, the BGB patrol team saw a group of cow smugglers coming from India crossing the border in the area adjacent to Jelepara post of Dhanyakhola BOP of BGB Jessore Battalion.
When the patrol team chased them, they tried to run away towards India. Sepahi Mohammad Raishuddin, a member of the BGB patrol team, was chased after the smugglers and got lost due to thick fog.
Initially, he was not found, but later it was learned that he was injured in BSF firing and is undergoing treatment in a hospital in India.
Lt. Col. Jamil, commander of BGB’s Jessore battalion, said that the BGB-BSF battalion commander-level flag meeting was held immediately after the incident.
It is known from the meeting that the soldier died while undergoing treatment in an Indian hospital. In addition to demanding a fair investigation to the BSF in this regard, a strong protest letter has been sent diplomatically.
He said that all kinds of communication are continuing for the speedy return of Mohammad Raishuddin’s body to Bangladesh.
Killings are happening every month at the hands of Indian Border Security Force BSF. Most of the time the victims are Bangladeshi citizens. International law prohibits border killings. There are regular talks between India and Bangladesh. But still the killing at the border does not stop.
A 14-year-old girl was shot dead by BSF personnel on the border of Anantapur in Phulbari upazila of Kurigram. The name of the girl who died in that incident on January 7, 2011 is Felani. Felani’s body, dressed in red, was hanging like a bird on the barbed wire fence for about five hours. BSF handed over Felani’s body to BGB after 30 hours. That incident 12 years ago caused a stir in the country and abroad.
An era has passed after the killing of Felani, but the killings on the Bangladesh-India border have not stopped. Killings by BSF, the country’s border security force, are occurring every month. It is a murder that no one can take responsibility for.
According to Human Rights Culture Foundation, 22 Bangladeshis were killed by BSF direct fire from January to November last year alone. More than 20 people were injured. In addition to the shootings, several other killings occurred on the border at this time. Needless to say, this number will increase further by the end of the year.
A review of statistics from the past few years also shows that border killings have never stopped. Rather, some years this number exceeded 40 houses. According to the Ain and Arbitration Center (ASK), 23 Bangladeshis were killed in 2022 due to firing, torture and chase by the BSF. In 2021, 20 people were killed by BSF in various ways including bullets. In 2020, there were 48 incidents of shooting and torture. In 2019, 46 people were killed in BSF firing and torture. In 2018, 8 people were killed in BSA firing and 6 people were killed in torture. In 2017, this number was 24.
According to Indian authorities, BSF kills in self-defense. But in a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report titled ‘Trigger Happy’, survivors and eyewitnesses of border firing alleged that the BSF opened fire indiscriminately without trying to arrest or warn them. But according to international law, border guards must fire blank rounds to first warn of the need for self-defense. If the assailant is not restrained and is a threat to life, the shot will be fired, but must be below the knee. But the border guards of the friendly state do not care about all this. Doesn’t the Felani killing scene remind you, BSF fired only to kill. In no case has the BSF been able to prove that there was a risk of life or serious injury to the victims through the casualties.
One of the main reasons for the killing of Bangladeshi citizens at the border is excessive use of force by the country’s border security forces. Apart from this, the border areas of the two countries are densely populated. A section of people here earn their living through agriculture and other occupations as well as cross-border cattle and commodity smuggling. BSF alleged that most of the victims of this killing were involved in various smuggling activities. But according to the laws of the two countries, anyone who infiltrates the border, cuts the barbed wire or tries to smuggle them must be arrested and tried according to the laws of that country. But under no circumstances can shooting or torture be done.
India and Bangladesh have been talking about non-use of lethal weapons on the border. But 90% of the victims killed by BSF on the border were shot dead. The country has repeatedly promised to reduce border killings to zero. Repeated promises have been made even from the highest levels of the state. But India is not keeping any promises.
In this context, Sultana Kamal, founder president of Human Rights Culture Foundation and former caretaker government advisor, said that if we want to talk about border killings, we have to look at our history. After the partition of India, the people living in the border areas also had some issues divided among themselves. I can also see that some family’s kitchen is on the other side, the living room is on the other side. The border between the two countries is so large that it is almost impossible to guard it.
There were some formal talks between the two neighboring countries about the border killings. What should we do if someone tries to cross the country’s border illegally, the Indian representative asked. If any action had to be taken to stop them, it was said that both sides would use rubber bullets. No weapons may be used. So that murders can be reduced.
I think it is very difficult to reduce illegal border crossing between India and Bangladesh. If it is to be stopped, then we have to find some humane way, through which the killing does not happen. We cannot support murder.
On the other hand, both sides need to stop smuggling across the border. The meeting held at the secretary level between the two countries, we also had the opportunity to give our opinion. We said not to use lethal weapons. But because it could not be implemented, the killings on the border did not stop. As a result, I am constantly seeing such murders. As long as there is no fair-trade agreement between the two countries, as long as it is not easier to come and go between the two countries, such incidents will probably continue to happen.
This is not the case in other countries. Because it is very easy to come and go between the two neighboring countries. But we also want smuggling to stop. For this we have to think of some effective measures, through which no killing will take place.
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