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Omission of duty by BSF and police: Hindu forcefully kidnapped, taken to Bangladesh

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), & National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission:

***
I am writing this to focus on the life and situation of the poor and marginalized villagers living alongside the Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal. Through the several complaints we made throughout the years to your good office, it is now evident that the people of this border are living in an acute crisis, not only from a financial perspective but also in terrible distress. The people of the border are devoid of their basic rights and are subjected to immense torture, harassment and restrictions mostly enacted by the Border Security Force personnel, who are supposed to be posted at the international borders with intentions to protect the Indian citizenry. However, on the contrary, incidents of victimizing Indian citizens are being witnessed at large by the BSF.
130 Bhotbari village is an Indo-Bangladesh bordering village situated under Mekhliganj Sub Division and under Kuchlibari Police Station in the district of Cooch Behar. The Central Public Works Department did not construct any fencing in this village. Border Security Force personnel attached with Oran Border Out Post, ‘D’ Company; 6 Battalion posted there 150 meters distance from the International Border Pillar (IBP) and inside the village of 130 Bhotbari.
Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar is a villager of 130 Bhotbari village. No other family members reside with him in this village. His elder brother is residing in the Mekhliganj town. Mr. Sambhu runs his family by farming on his own land. Dahagram colony Para village under Bangarbari Patgram Police Station in the district of Lalmonirhat, Bangladesh is very close to the house of Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar. As there was no fencing in the border in this village, the miscreants from the Bangladesh side came in the Indian land and kidnapped Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar. The BSF who are in charge of protecting the border of the country are posted far inside Indian mainland giving free access to Bangladeshi intruders and risking the lives of several villagers of the border.
On 11.08.2022 at about 11 pm at night several miscreants from Dahagram Colony Para village under Bangarbari Patgram Police Station in the district of Lalmonirhat, Bangladesh entered into the Indian Territory. The Names of the miscreants are (i)Mr. Hasmat Ali, son of Akar Ali Mian; (ii) Abdullah Mian, son of Kahiam Mian; (iii) Maizu Mian; (iv) Tatin Mian. These Bangladeshi miscreants broke through the tin fence and entered the house of Mr. Sambhu and kidnapped him and took him to Bangladesh. Even though the neighbours understood this incident, they could not come out from their house that night out of fear.
Our fact finding team talked with the villagers of 130 Bhotbari. They informed that on 11.08.2022 at about 7 to 8 pm Border Security Force personnel attached with Oran Border Out Post apprehended one Mr. Hafijuddin from Bangladesh allegedly during the time of cross – border - smuggling. Out of vengeance, family members of Mr. Hafijuddin kidnapped Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar, an Indian citizen.
On 12.08.2022 the elder brother of Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar and his son went to the Oran Border Out Post and informed the incident of kidnapping of Mr. Sambhu by some Bangladeshi miscreants. On the said day BSF of Oran BOP and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) conducted one flag meeting. In the meeting BSF was informed that one Indian man namely Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar had been missing and BGB told them that they will try to find the missing man. Mr. Goutam Singha Sarkar, nephew of the kidnapped victim told our fact finding team that despite saying repeatedly that his uncle was kidnapped by some Bangladeshi miscreants, BSF did not communicate to the BGB of that incident in the said meeting. At about 7 pm on the same date another flag meeting was conducted between BSF and BGB. In the said meeting officers of the Border Guards Bangladesh told that if BSF would release the Bangladeshi man whom they had been apprehended the previous day, they will also release Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar. In reply BSF people informed that they did not apprehend any Bangladeshi man. The meeting ended without any decision.
On 13.08.2022 the family members of Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar received information that the victim was imprisoned in the Lalmonirhat District Jail. On the said day Mr. Goutam Singha Sarkar lodged one written complaint to the Officer-in-Charge, Kuchlibari Police Station. Concerned police just put down the incident in the General Diary Entry vide Kuchlibari Police Station GDE no. 395 dated 13.08.2022. On 16.08.2022 he again lodged another written complaint to the Sub Divisional Officer, Mekhliganj, Cooch Behar but till date no action has been taken by the concerned police and administration.
The villagers from several such border areas in Cooch Behar district are living in terrible distress as such incidents happen often. In some cases, the victim doesn’t even return. The BSF who are in charge of protecting the border of the country are being posted far inside the Indian mainland giving free access to Bangladeshi intruders and risking the lives of several villagers of the border. The villagers are mostly scared to lodge any complaint against the BSF as they fear that they will be victimized by the wrath of the men in uniform.
The house of the victim is located inside the Indian Territory. There is no fencing on the border in this village. BSF personnel are not posted at the border; they are posted well inside the Indian Territory. According to locals, Bangladeshi miscreants came into the Indian Territory and entered the house of the victim by breaking through the tin fence and abducted the victim and they managed to escape. The brutal incident raises several questions on the safety and security of the Indian citizens residing along the border. Our concern is:
  • How can armed forces from the neighboring country enter Indian territory and kidnap an Indian citizen?
  • Why was BSF not posted at the international border to contain intruders from entering Indian Territory?
  • Why was BSF not able to protect the integrity of the international border?
  • Who is responsible for the safety and security of the Indian citizens residing at the border villages?
Article 31 of Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees, “….. action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law”. Mr. Sambhu Singha Sarkar was kidnapped by Bangladeshi miscreants while he was sleeping at night in his own house situated in Indian Territory. Officers of the Border Guards of Bangladesh offered a condition that if BSF would return the apprehended Bangladeshi man, they would return Mr. Sambhu and ultimately the victim was sent to the prison. So the Government of Bangladesh is duty bound to respect its constitutional mandate and take proper steps accordingly.
From the above stated incident it is revealed that Bangladeshi miscreants are now governing the Border Guards of Bangladesh. Why did BGB make such a condition in the flag meeting that if BSF would release the apprehended Bangladeshi man, they would release Mr. Sambhu?
The villagers of Indo-Bangladesh border villages live under similar circumstances, where they are under constant threats from foreign intruders. While the BSF is responsible for guarding the international border and protecting the citizens of the country, it is a huge failure on their part as they are stationed inside villages located about 1 kilometer in some places and 10 to 15 kilometers in some other places. There are several instances where Bangladeshi criminals intrude inside Indian lands and ransack crops of Indian citizenry incurring grave losses. In all these instances, the BSF is a silent spectator as they are posted inside villages leaving the borders unguarded.
Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to life of every man within the territory of India. Mr. Sambhu is an Indian citizen who was kidnapped by Bangladeshi miscreants from his own house and now imprisoned in Bangladesh jail. BSF personnel failed to protect its citizens and therefore, curtail the right to life of the victim. The incident and the action of the BSF and BGB violate Article 5, 6, 9, 10 and 11 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which the Government of India did ratify. The BSF and BGB both violate several Articles of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials; Adopted by General Assembly resolution 34/169 of 17 December 1979 and the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988. The random actions by the BSF also violates the Goal numbers 8 and16 of Sustainable Development Goal earmarked by the United Nations and the government of India is a party and has agreement in these international instruments.
Under the circumstances, I would request the Commission to look into the matter and take necessary actions in order to resolve the issue. I request your urgent intervention in this matter:-
  • The whole incident must be investigated by a neutral agency appointed by the Commission
  • Immediately take proper action to bring back the victim from the Lalmonirhat District Jail, Bangladesh to his own house in India.
  • BSF should protect the safety and security of citizen of India
  • BSF should guard the actual borders and not be stationed inside villages.
  • Punitive actions should be taken against the negligent BSF personnel.

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