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Constitutional? Beef not permitted, anti-Muslim hate speech in WB border area

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), & National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) writes to the Principal Secretary (Home), Government of West Bengal:

This letter is for your immediate attention to the unlawful restrictions on agricultural activities that disrupt the livelihood of the poor marginalized villagers at Gangulia of Asaru Gram Panchayat under the Block and Police Station Bagda in North 24 Parganas District, West Bengal, by BSF persons attached to 107 Battalion posted at Mostafapur Border Outpost.
Gangulia is a border village where the IBBR road constructed by the CPWD goes through the village used by the people. As the road passes through Gangulia, earlier there was no border fence constructed. But now the BSF had used barbed wire border fencing fitted on bamboo poles on the IBBR. The installed barbed wire on wooden poles had blocked their houses. On the other hand, those who reside in between IBBR and IBP are completely isolated from the mainland.
The Company Commander Mr. Om Prakash Misra and other BSF subordinates reigned terror among the Muslim-populated Gangulia village. Even they are dictating on what food the village people would eat like not allowing beef to be consumed.
The posted BSF personnel do not operate the gate (open and close) as per the schedule and which caused loss to the farmers to sell their produce. Most of the time, the fence gate to access their farmlands remains closed. Their erratic behavior disturbs the agricultural activities which is the only livelihood of most of the villagers. For their own use, BSF persons depute villagers to work for them, which tantamount slavery . The security persons intrude on personal property like they chopped bamboo trees without permission for their own use. The registrar's book is used at the entry point, the villagers have to purchase for BSF which is supposed to be either way. The BSF men prohibited the farmers to cultivate mustard, jute and banana, and if they found it had been, they used poisonous spray to destroy the produce on the field. The Company Commander Om Prakash Misra made fun on Islam religion, restricting the people during namaz (prayer) at the mosque and he had visited the house of the person who performs the namaz. He also used derogatory remarks about the women and men who go for namaz at the mosque.
The ongoing situation perturbed the villagers and for respite, they approached with their complaints to the SDO on 11th November 2022 and BDO on 30th November 2022.
To my utter surprise, nearly two months had passed, the state government officials, the SDO & the BDO, took no action based on their complaints. Their utter failure to respond to the issue is not only challenging their life and livelihood but also violating Article 21 and Article 19 (1)(g), 39(a) and Article 25, right to practice religion of the Constitution of India and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The plight of the villagers and denial of their proper livelihood practices is against Articles 6 (Right to Work), 7 (Right to enjoyment just and favorable condition of work), 9 (Right to Social Security), and 11 (Right to Adequate Standard of living) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In all these international instruments, the Government of India is a party and has taken a pledge to adhere with.
The inaction of the concerned government line departments, even after lodging the complaint by the victims, also violates Goal number 16 of the UN SDG which speaks of access to justice for all.
I request your urgent intervention in this case by fulfilling the following demands of the villagers:
  • Villagers should be allowed to use the CPWD road and no restrictions should be imposed on them. The barbed wire border fence they constructed without the approval of the DM of the district should be withdrawn immediately.
  • The Border Security Force should be posted at the zero point and not inside the village.
  • Like other places where the border gate is open for 12 hours, it should be implemented here too.
  • The BSF posted at Mostafapur BOP should immediately allow the villagers to have access to their lands in the enclosed area.
  • Villagers should be duly compensated for the loss that they are incurring due to the illegal restrictions by the BSF.
  • BSF should be instructed to follow their rules and not adhere to the prohibitory orders made by the local BSF personnel.
  • The Government of India and the Government of West Bengal should abide by the Chapter III of the Indian Constitution where the fundamental rights of Indian citizenry are enshrined
  • Disciplinary action should be taken against the BSF Company Commander and all others for imposing illegal restrictions upon the villagers and harassing them.BSF should not restrict the life and livelihood of the villagers, particularly of the farmers.
  • The villagers should be provided with adequate agricultural support.
I hope this letter clarifies the issue forced upon the villagers and which entails urgent resolution for their livelihood and to stop migration. Please allow me to further provide any information which you may require in resolving the case.



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