Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Check BSF: Bengal rights group

Samir Purkayastha,  Kolkata
Published: 2013-06-05 03:58:41.0 Updated: 2013-06-05 14:40:34.0

A West Bengal based human rights group has moved India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for the second time in a month, asking it to rein in the Border Security Force (BSF), which it says is making life difficult for people on the India-Bangladesh border.

In its latest petition to the NHRC, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) alleged that the BSF continues a campaign of torture and terror, often falsely implicating villagers on charges of smuggling.

The MASUM had in a separate petition last month also drawn attention of the country’s apex human rights body about 'serious and continuos rights violations' affecting villagers.

While the previous petition focussed on cases in Murshidabad district, the latest petition brings up cases of rights violations in other border districts.

In most cases, BSF seems to implicate villagers as cattle smugglers.

“This is a serious trend which needs to be stopped as soon as possible or else this could lead to a serious disaffection in the border areas,” MASUM chief Kirity Roy told claiming that the villagers in the bordering areas are often subject to needless harassment.

“These incidents show that those live on or near the Indo-Bangladesh Border area have no protection from BSF and police," Roy pointed out in his letter to the NHRC chairman.

To prove its point, MASUM investigated a case in details in the North 24-Parganas district.

Its fact finding team found that on March 13 around 5 am, a BSF team from Kalanchi Border Outpost (BOP) accosted a brick kiln labourer Sahabuddin Biswas of Gobra village.

“BSF personnel, Nur Alam (INT of Kalanchi BOP, Battalion-152, Company-G), Bala Saheb, Monir Ahmed (Company Commander) and Akbar Khan started to assault the victim indiscriminately. The victim asked them the reason for sudden assault upon him. They told that he was involved in cattle smuggling. He protested against such false allegation and told them that he earns his livelihood by working in brick field as a day labourer. But the BSF personnel were not convinced and continued to assault him while abusing him in filthy language,” MASUM’s fact finding report said.

The BSF then took him to Kalanchi BSF Camp. There the victim was kept inside a toilet with his hands tied from back and his legs chained, the report said, adding, he was again subjected to heinous assault by Monir Ahmed, Nur Alam and other BSF personnel.

“Then the victim was handed over to the custody of Akbar Khan of Gobindapur BSF BOP where he was again assaulted by Khan. Then at about 4 pm the victim was produced at Sarapul Block Primary Health Centre and the BSF personnel manufactured one medical fit certificate of the victim but beforehand they threatened him not to reveal the incident of torture to the attending doctor. Then the victim was produced at the Customs Office, Hatathganj and the customs officials took the thumb impression of the victim on some papers on the instruction of BSF personnel. Then at about 5 pm the victim was handed over to the police of Swarupnagar Police Station where he was lodged in police lock-up,” the MASUM told the NHRC in its letter.

At about 7 pm the brother of the victim along with some local people came to the police station and they met 2nd officer (Mejobabu) of the police station namely Bajlur Rahman. The said police officer demanded Rs.50, 000/- from them by telling them the victim would not get bail and suffer three years in jail if the money was not paid. The victim’s family arranged the money by mortgaging landed property and gave the amount to Rahman in presence of one advocate, the report said.

Again Officer-in-Charge of Swarupnagar Police Station Rajashree Banerjee took Rs.3000/- from the victim’s family on the plea that the money was needed for ‘correcting documents’, it added.

Then on March 14 the victim was produced in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Basirhat by police by implicating him in a criminal case vide Swarupnagar Police Station Case no. 155/2013 dated 14.3.2013 under sections 147/148/186/188/413/414 of Indian Penal Code.

The victim got bail from court after serving 17 days in custody. The victim is still under medical treatment and the medical expenses are born by his family.

On May 20 he lodged a written complaint before the Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Basirhat informing the whole incident of BSF torture and illegal practice of the police of Swarupnagar Police Station. But till date there has been no action against the perpetrators, the rights body claimed.

Masum chief Kirity Roy says that many villagers are tortured and falsely implicated in criminal cases and then their families are fleeced mercilessly. "The protectors have become perpetrators of crime."

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