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Custodial rape near Bangladesh border: failure of action by BSF, police, administration

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, on "custodial rape by BSF at Bagda, inconspicuousness of BSF, police and administration":

***
I want to attract your attention to another shocking and disgusting incident committed by two BSF personnel on duty attached with Jeetpur Border Out Post, ‘G’ Company, 68 Battalion upon one Indian woman who tried to cross the Indo-Bangladesh border for going to her in-laws house in Bangladesh. On 25.08.2022 Border Security Force person on duty namely Mr. Altaf Hussin raped one Muslim Indian woman namely Ms. Halima Bibi (name changed) and another BSF person namely Mr. S.P. Chero encouraged Mr. Altaf to rape the victim. During the time of crossing the border this woman victim was apprehended by the above mentioned BSF personnel and in the BSF custody they committed this heinous crime. The victim woman informed the incident to the BSF officials but they did not take proper steps immediately to take the rape victim to the medical officer for her examination in accordance with the provision of Code of Criminal Procedure. The victim woman lodged one written complaint to Bagdah Police Station which was registered as First Information Report vide Bagdah Police Station case number 658/22 dated 26.08.2022 under section 376(2) (c) / 376 D of Indian Penal Code.
In the following the fact finding of the above stated incident has been discussed in details:
Halima Bibi (Name Changed), wife of Alamin Sardar, aged about 23 years, residing at Trimohini mathpara village(Nakari Para) under 1 no Basirthat Block and Basirhat Police Station in North 24 Parganas is the victim. She is living with her husband and two children namely Sabia Parveen aged about 7 years and Salman Sardar aged about 2 years. Her in-law’s house is in Bangladesh. The victim’s family is staying in a rented house which has a brick made wall and the asbestos roof top. The victim and her husband both are working in a fishery and earn Rs. 200/- per day.
On 25.08.2022 at about 8.30 p.m Ms. Halima Bibi (Name changed) and her family members tried to cross the Indo-Bangladesh border to go to her in-laws house in Bangladesh. They contacted with one broker named Mr. Safiul Biswas, son of Manik Biswas, residing at Hariharpur, Police Station – Bagdah for the purpose of crossing the border. Mr. Safiul took Rs. 30,000/- for helping to cross the Indo-Bangladesh border. Bagdah border is 60 kilometer away from the house of the victim. Mr. Khoka, one local tout took them to one agricultural field for crossing the Jeetpur border. Local tout was watching them from hiding in a banana yard.
When the victim along with her husband and two minor children tried to cross the border, on duty Border Security Force personnel attached with Jeetpur Border Out Post, ‘G’ Company, 68 Battalion chased after them. After being chased by the BSF, the victim and her husband both ran away in different directions. Alamin Sardar, husband of the victim, escaped and returned to the Jeetpur village in India. Halima Bibi (Name changed) and her minor daughter Master Sabia Parvin was apprehended by Mr. Altaf Hussin, BSF Constable No. 11040141 and Mr. S.P. Chero, ASI No. 890030822 both are attached with Jeetpur Border Out Post, ‘G’ Company, 68 Battalion. Mr. S.P. Chero, ASI started to beat Ms. Halima (Name changed) with bamboo made sticks in his hand. He also told her that she have to listen what Mr. Altaf says. They would let her go, when Altaf’s work was done. These two BSF personnel by force dragged the victim inside the field of pointed gourd. Mr. Chero instructed Mr. Altaf that whatever he wanted, do it with her. Mr. Altaf raped the victim at that time inside the field of pointed gourd. For 30 minutes Mr. Altaf raped the victim against her will. When Mr. Altaf committed this heinous crime, the seven years old daughter of the victim stood there and witnessed the whole incident.
After that those BSF personnel forced her to cross the border. Ms. Halima (Name changed) informed them that she did not know Bangladesh well. Her husband returned to the Indian side with her son. Despite going to Bangladesh, she decided to return home. Those two BSF personnel left the victim at that spot.
When the victim informed the local tout Mr. Khoka and her husband that night, they went to the BSF camp. Mr, Khoka demanded Rs. 1 lakh from the BSF for committing this heinous crime upon the victim. BSF people refused to give money.
At that time other BSF personnel went with the victim to the place of incident. At about 11 p.m in that night one BSF higher officer came to the spot and examined the place of incident. He talked with the victim woman. At about 1 am on 26.08.2022 the victim was released. In the morning at about 8.30 am Mr. Khoka took the victim woman to the place of incident. BSF officials were also present there. BSF people took the woman victim to Ranghat Border Out Post in their car. For 4 to 5 hours the victim woman was interrogated by the BSF officials. BSF people informed Bagdah police station about the incident and at about 2.30 pm some police personnel of Bagdah Police Station came to the BSF camp. BSF people handed over the victim to the Police.
On 26.08.2022 at about 2.50 pm Ms. Halima Bibi (Name changed) lodged one written complaint to the Officer-in-Charge, Bagdah Police Station. Police registered one case against the perpetrators Mr. Altaf Hussin and Mr. S.P. Chero vide Bagdah Police Station case number 658/22 dated 26.08.2022 under section 376(2) (c) / 376 D of Indian Penal Code. Mr. Sujit Roy, Sub Inspector of Bagdah Police Station was directed to investigate the case. On the same day Coy Commander, ‘G’ Coy, 68 Battalion, Ranghat BOP lodged one written complaint to the Officer-in-Charge, Bagdah Police Station where he mentioned that during the interrogation BSF Constable Altaf Hussin confessed that he left the woman victim after having sex with her and he also requested to lodge FIR against Mr. Altaf Hussin and Mr. S.P. Chero. During the time of investigation, police arrested the perpetrators Mr. Altaf Hussin and S.P. Chero.
On 26.08.2022 at about 9.00 pm the victim woman was taken to the Bagdah Block Rural Hospital for the purpose of a medical test. Police also seized the wearing apparels of the victim woman during the time the incident and one test tube containing vaginal swab of victim woman.
On 27.08.2022 the statement of the victim was recorded by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bangaon under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. On 31.08.2022 victim’s minor daughter Master Sabia Parvin who was the sole witness of the incident, her statement was also recorded by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bangaon. During the time of recording statement of the victim’s minor daughter, no family members including her mother were allowed in the room. On 27.08.2022 two accused BSF persons were sent to the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bangaon Court and Magistrate sent them to the police custody for 7 days.
There are many lacunas in the whole procedure which was maintained by the BSF and police to deal with a rape case –
  • This is an open insert case of custodial rape. Section 176(1A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure mandates judicial enquiry into every case of rape in the custody but here why did the BSF and police administration violate this law?
  • According to section 164A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the woman against whom the offence of rape has been committed shall be sent for medical examination within 24 hours. In this case rape has been occurred on 25.08.2022 at about 8.30 pm and the victim was taken to the Bagdah Block Rural Hospital for medical examination on 26.08.2022 at about 9.00 pm. Why did BSF immediately not inform the police and send the victim for medical examination?
  • Date and time of the incident is on 25.08.2022 at about 8.30 pm. From the complaint of the BSF it is revealed that the Company Commander received the information of this heinous incident on 25.08.2022 at about 9.30 pm but he informed the Bagdah Police on 26.08.2022 at about 1.00 pm. Why did BSF officials inform the police so late?
  • Why in the FIR concerned police did not fill up the point no. 8 i.e, the reasons for delay in reporting by the informant? As there is no such reason but the BSF informed the police after 15 hours of the incident, therefore, there is a strong chance of tampering the evidence. Why did concerned police not put section 204 of Indian Penal Code in the FIR in connection with this case?
  • From our fact finding we received the information that BSF people several times went to the place of incident before informing the concerned police. There is such a possibility to tamper the evidence of crime from the place of incident. Despite calling the police immediately, why did BSF people visit the place of incident several times?
  • In the seizure list the Investigation officer just mentioned one light greenish colour sealed packet containing clothing of the victim lady has been seized. The investigating officer did not mention the details of the wearing apparels of the victim during the time of rape. He did not mention the colour, whether the apparel is saree or salwar. There is such a possibility to tamper the evidence if the details of the wearing apparels are not mentioned in the seizure list.
  • Rape which was committed by Mr. Altaf Hussin and encouraged by Mr. S.P. Chero during the time of BSF custody upon this woman, which attracts section 376 (2) (C) of Indian Penal Code as well as Article 6 and Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The perpetrator BSF personnel of Jeetpur Border Out Post disregarded the Articles 2 and 3 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
  • Rape and molestation in custody are heinous crime. Domestic law clearly said that such crime should be inquired by a judicial magistrate [Sec. 176 (1A) of Cr.P.C.]. In this case law must be enforced in the true sense.
  • The heinous crime which was committed by BSF personnel in their custody must be properly investigated and tried the perpetrator in open court of law.
  • A disciplinary action must be taken against the perpetrator for committing this heinous incident upon this victim woman.
  • Immediately direct a judicial enquiry in this respect under 176(1A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Steps should be taken against those BSF officials who did not inform the police at earliest and sent the victim for medical examination within 24 hours of the incident.
For your ready reference, I am attaching copies of police records, pictures of the victim's rented house, husband and kids of victim and meeting investigating officer of Bagda police station. We also have video and audio documentation to prove our allegation.

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