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BSF personnel using pellet guns to control smuggling, villager goes blind: NHRC told

By Our Representative 

In a gruesome incident, brought to light by a senior West Bengal activist, the Border Security force (BSF) appears to have begun using pellet guns to control cross-border smuggling. Binging this to light, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), has said, BSF personnel attached with Karola border outpost under 90 Battalion fired pellets on a villager of Karola village under Dinhata-II Block and Sahebganj police station area of Cooch Behar district.
Roy, who is also national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), said, "The victim was severely injured and became completely blind in the sudden pellet firing by BSF", adding, "Our fact finding has revealed that the victim is associated with smuggling activities. The on-duty BSF personnel without any warning fired pellets from the pump gun which caused complete blindness to the victim."
Stating that such use of pellet guns is against the the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, which says that "using pump guns (pellets) is meant to control the crowd”, Roy, in his complaint to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, despite this, "The present case shows BSF personnel are using pellet guns according to their own whims."
Stating that about a dozen of foreign metal bodies/ pellets are within the victim’s eye and face that were fired by BSF men, Roy said, "The poor family of the victim has no resources for his proper treatment. They lodged a complaint to the superintendent of police of the Cooch Behar district, but no action has been taken yet."
He added, "We at MASUM brought the victim and his family at our office to get fair treatment. Accordingly we took him to a nearby eye hospital, where his eyes were examined by several doctors using several pieces of equipment. Later we took him to the Regional Institute of Opthalmology (RIO) at Calcutta Medical College premises."
Roy said, the incident entails a clear violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The district police administration of Cooch Behar have violated the provision of section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Supreme Court Guidelines in the Lalita Kumari Judgment (AIR 2014 SC 187) which makes it mandatory for them to lodge a FIR in cases of cognizable offences.
He added, the incident also violates Article 3 (right to life, liberty and security); Article 5 (freedom from torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment); Article 7 (equality before law and equal protection of laws) and Article 8 (right to effective remedy) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 6 (right to life) and Article 7 (right not to be tortured) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which both India is party.
According to Roy, the family of the person shot at, Faruk Abdulla, is very poor. He is the only earning member of the family and completely dependent on agricultural activities, a day labourer. Pellet firing by the perpetrator BSF person makes the victim completely blind.
He added, "While the Government of India has been considering implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within 2030, where the first goal is to eliminate poverty, the BSF was found firing pellet upon the victim, making him completely blind, pushing the family further into poverty, as he is the sole earning member."
Stating that the victim migrated to different states for the purpose of better earning as there is no source of income in the bordering areas, Roy regretted, the BSF personnel are allowed impunity despite their omission in duty even after lodging of complaint by the victim’s wife before the superintendent of police, Cooch Behar district.

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