Skip to main content

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk 

Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.
Roy, who is Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, said the woman, now aged 35, is not the only such victim at the hands of state machinery. In a letter to the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), he said, between January and June 2021, where trafficked 106 Bangladeshi women Bangladeshi and 30 children who were charged with criminal offences by the BSF/police.


I again want to attract your attention over the situation where the administration did not follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division), Government of India, in connection to deal with the matter of women and child victim survivors of sex-trafficking from neighbouring countries, and therefore these victims are suffering highly without any intentional offence committed by them.
On July 14, 2021, Border Security Force, Frontier Head Quarter North Bengal, Siliguri released one press statement proudly stating that their troops of 61 Battalion BSF apprehended a Bangladeshi woman, Halima Begum, aged about 35 years, daughter of Abdul Hanib, resident of village Hamar, Madanpur Bhogduma, PO & PS Birganj, Dist Danajpur, Bangladesh during the time of crossing international border from India to Bangladesh through unfenced area of Hili Border Out Post.
In the said press release it was officially made public that the victim woman was trafficked 15 years ago through Malda border with the help of an Indian tout, namely Samat, resident of Bihar. Samat took her to district Mansa, Punjab, where the victim was sold to an Indian national, namely Sarjit Singh, for Rs 10,000 who exploited and kept the victim at his home for 11 years and gave birth to a child.
The victim somehow escaped from the house of Sarjit Singh and reached Mansa bus stand where she met an unknown lady who handed over her to one Tota Singh, who also exploited her. The victim also managed to escape from his house and somehow reached Hili, South Dinajpur district in West Bengal to cross the international border with the intention of meeting her family in Bangladesh, and at this time she was apprehended by BSF and handed over to the Hili Police Station for legal action.
From this official statement of BSF, Frontier Head Quarter North Bengal, with pictures and documents released to media, it is revealed that the victim had no intention or purpose to illegally enter in our country, rather she is a victim of sex trafficking and for the last 15 years she was exploited by two Indians and gave birth a child.
In this case one can observe several anomalies:
First of all,
no person can print or publish in print, electronic, social media, etc. the name of the rape victim or even in a remote manner disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified and which should make her identity known to the public at large. According to section 228A of Indian Penal Code anyone publishing the name of a rape victim is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.
But here the BSF authorities at North Bengal Frontier Head Quarter published an official statement regarding the case and disclosed the name and even photos of the victim woman and thereby revealed her identity in public gaze. Here, BSF has violated the general rule of law undermining social justice to a sex trafficking victim.
Secondly, the BSF 61 Battalion apprehended the victim lady and handed over to the Hili Police station for registration a case. Here again the BSF authorities and police officials of Hili Police Station violate the advisory issued by the Government of India vide office memorandum No. 14051/14/2011-F.VI of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) Government of India dated May 1, 2012, where it is clearly stated that if a foreign victim of human trafficking is found without valid passport or visa, and in case the victim is a woman or a child, she should not be prosecuted under the Foreigners Act and immediate action must be taken to repatriate the victim.
And thirdly, from one reliable source we received information that a case was registered in Hili Police Station case number 141/2021 under section 14A (a)/(b) of the Foreigners Act against Halima. BSF in its official statement said that the victim was trafficked for sex and exploited by Samat, Sarjit Singh and Tota Singh for last 15 years.
But astonishingly BSF does not mention these names in its complaint to the police and register a case against Samat, Sarjit Singh and Tota Singh. Given this framework, the police cannot investigate the matter properly. This means that if any foreigner becomes a victim of sex trafficking, and if she has been exploited for several years in this country, the government and administration will not take proper and due action.
The detention of the victim woman is just meant to harass her private life when she was exploited in this land for the last 15 years
It is a systemic violation of law by the administration and the judiciary in the state of West Bengal. On July 14, 2021 the victim was produced before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court, Balurghat, in connection with GR case number 851/2021 and Hili Police Station case number 141/2021 under section 14A (a)/(b) of the Foreigners Act, and the victim lady was sent to judicial custody for 14 days without giving little respect to the advisory issued by the Government of India vide office memorandum No. 14051/14/2011-F.VI of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) dated May 1, 2012. The victim of slavery became an accused in crime.
As a member state of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), it is the duty and responsibility of the Indian state to follow the resolutions passed there. It is the constitutional duty of every citizen of India to foster respect as enshrined in Article 51C of the Indian Constitution. SAARC, in its Convention in Kathmandu 2010 and in Paro, Bhutan, on April 11-12, 2013, clearly took stand against trafficking of women and children.
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to all States and Union Territories. Judicial Colloquiums were held to sensitize the decision by the Government of India. If SOP is not followed by police, BSF, or even judiciary, the erring officials should be booked accordingly. Section 12(f) of the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 empowers your Commission to study the treaties and make recommendations thereto.
Last but not the least, the detention of the victim woman is just meant to harass her private life when she was exploited in this land for the last 15 years. In such situations, the trafficked persons lose their voice and become detainees. BSF, police and judiciary’s action towards this woman victim is not according to the established legal procedure.
I want attract your attention to a grievous systematic violation by the stakeholders of our criminal justice delivery system with evidence. Out of thousands of our complaints to your Commission and respective government departments, we are hereby affixing references only a few from January to June 2021, where Bangladeshi trafficked women and children were charged with criminal offences by the BSF/police, this year only:
This systemic violation should be stopped and urge you to take stringent step in connection with this case and recommend to the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal and its line departments, including the judiciary, about proper legal framework to deal with trafficking/ slavery cases in line with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted by the General Assembly Resolution 55/25 of November 15, 2000.



'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".