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Bangladeshi dacoits loot villagers' cattle, yet BSF 'doesn't guard' Ichamati river border

Counterview Desk 

Bringing to light the case of one Basudeb Adhikari, who earns livelihood by cattle rearing and working as agricultural labour, a senior human rights activist has pointed towards how in the middle of a September night, Bangladeshi miscreants illegally trespassed into his house, situated near Indo-Bangladesh borders, broke the lock in the gate of the cowshed and stole his cow.
Stating that such incidents are not uncommon, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), Hooghly, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said, the village where this person lives, Pipli, is next to the river Ichamati, which is the international border between two countries.
There is no fencing in this area, he said, regretting, here, at the International Border Pillar (IBP) Border Security Force personnel are never posted. This leads to the villagers experiencing severe harassment from hooligans from Bangladesh. Often Bangladeshi miscreants illegally enter the mainland of India and ransack the property of the residents of the said village.
Despite several complaints, the authorities have remained indifferent, he added.

Text:

I am writing this to inform you regarding the incidents of harassment upon one villager of Pipli under Ramnagar Gram Panchayat, Gaighata Block and Police Station in the district of North 24 Parganas, West Bengal by the hooligans from Bangladesh and the Border Security Force personnel attached with Pipli Border Out Post under Tetulberia Head Border Out Post, ‘E’ Company, 158 Battalion and the local administration do not take any steps to inhibit the miscreants.
This village of Pipli is located near the Indo-Bangladesh border. Here river Ichamati is the international border between two countries. There is no fencing in this area. The Central Public Works Department never constructed any fencing beside the Indo-Bangladesh Border Road as there are locality, schools and markets on both sides of the IBB road. Present IBB road is actually the village road previously maintained by the local gram panchayat.
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. In the bordering villages of Pipli, Tetulberia and Garjala Border Security Force personnel never posted themselves at the International Border Pillar (IBP). They placed themselves very far from the actual border. In the village of Pipli Border Security Force personnel posted 3 kilometers inside from the International Border Pillar (IBP). As the BSF is not posted at the International Border Pillar, the acres of Indian land are being unprotected. The villagers of Pipli experience severe harassment from hooligans from Bangladesh. Often Bangladeshi miscreants illegally enter the mainland of India and ransack the property of the residents of the said village.
Mr. Basudeb Adhikari resides in the village of Pipli. Distance between the International Border Pillar (IBP) and his residence is about 600 to 700 meter. No BSF present in this area for security purposes. BSF personnel guard the border, placing themselves by the side of Tetulberia and Sashadanga Baor (Big water body) which is 3 to 4 kilometer distance from the International Border Pillar (IBP).
Villagers demanded that Border Security Force personnel should be guarding at the international border by placing themselves in the bank of river Ichamati. If BSF people guard the river bank of Ichamati, no Bangladeshi miscreants can enter the mainland of India.
Mr. Basudeb Adhikari is a poor man. He has no agricultural land. He earns livelihood by cattle rearing and working as agricultural labour. He has one cow which produces 7-to-8-liter milk regularly. On 06.09.2022 in the middle of the night Bangladeshi miscreants illegally trespassed into the house of Mr. Basudeb Adhikari. They broke the lock in the gate of the cowshed and stole the cow. On 07.09.2022 in the morning when Mr. Basudeb discovered the incident, he immediately went to the Tetulberia Border Out Post and lodged one verbal complaint before the Company Commandant of Tetulberia Border Out Post. Company Commandant told him to lodge one written complaint before the concerned police station and then provided him with that complaint copy.
On the same day he lodged one written complaint to the Sutia Police Out Post which is under the Gaighata Police Station. They received the written complaint of the victim but did not register the complaint as a First Information Report. Police personnel of Sutia Police Out Post just put the incident in the General Diary book vide GDE no. 515 dated 07.09.2022. This violates section 154 of the Codeof Criminal Procedure and the apex court judgment in Lalita Kumari vs. State of U.P. & others (AIR 214SC187) which makes it mandatory for them to lodge a FIR in cases of cognizable offences. Mr. Basudeb again went to the Tetulberia Border Out Post and submitted the copy of the written complaint which was received by the Sutia Police Out Post. After more than one month, the concerned authority did not take any action in this respect. On 23.09.2022 the victim again submitted one written application to the Sub Divisional Officer, Bangaon and informed him the whole incident but till date the local and district administration is silent over the matter.
The house of the victim is located inside the Indian territory. There is no fencing on the border in the area
As the BSF is not posted beside the bank of river Ichamati as river Ichamati is the International Border between India and Bangladesh, therefore, a huge area of land is being unprotected. Bangladeshi people are taking advantage of this. They illegally entered the mainland of India and committed theft from the house of the Indian people but the Border Security Force would not take any steps to handle the situation.
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. Bangladeshi miscreants came into the Indian Territory and entered the house of the victim and stole the cows from the cowshed and they managed to escape. The incident raises several questions on the safety and security of the Indian citizens residing along the border. Our concern is:
  • How can the miscreants from the neighboring country enter Indian Territory and steal the property of 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?
  • Why was the concerned police authority failed to register the case after getting information that a cognizable offence happened?
  • Who is responsible for the safety and security of the Indian citizens residing at the border villages?
  • Why did SDO, Bangaon, not take any action based on the complaint of the victim? Is his only duty to issue the order of section 144 of the Cr.P.C in the bordering areas under his jurisdiction after hearing only the BSF people?
The incident attracts section 378 of the Indian Penal Code. ‘Life’ in Article 21 of the Constitution is not merely the physical act of breathing. It is much wider, including the right to live with human dignity and the right to livelihood. The cow which was stolen by Bangladeshi miscreants is the only source of livelihood of the victim. This also violates Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The incident and the subsequent action of the BSF attract Article 5 and 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which the Government of India did ratify. Non actions by the BSF and the administration also violate the Goal numbers 1, 8 and 16 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:
  • BSF should guard the actual borders and not be stationed inside villages.
  •  Immediately take proper action to trace the cows of the victim which was stolen by Bangladeshi miscreants.
  • BSF should protect the safety and security of citizens of India from intruders.
  • Punitive actions should be taken against the negligent BSF personnel.
  • Strict action must be taken against the concerned police officials who after knowing the fact that a cognizable crime happened failed to register a case.
  • Security and safety of the villagers must be ensured.
  • Immediately grant some financial assistance to the victim to run his family.

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