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Entrenched impunity of BSF men: attack on women by public officials

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) complains to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, on how on-duty BSF men destroyed food items and used criminal force with intent to outrage women's modesty:

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This is to bring your attention over a heinous incident of BSF torture and violence against women of Tetuler Chara village under Mathabhanga I Block and Mathabhnaga Police Station in the district of Cooch Behar. The perpetrator BSF personnel attached with Barogariya Border Out Post, 157 Battalion beat the village women, destroyed their food items and used criminal force with intent to outrage their modesty. When other villagers including a child tried to protest this illegal action of the BSF, they were also beaten by the perpetrator BSF personnel. Perpetrator BSF also tried to kill the child by strangulation.
Villagers of Tetuler Chara lodged one written complaint to the Inspector-in-Charge, Mathabhanga Police Station but till date no action has been taken by the concerned police officials. This violates section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and apex court judgment in Lalita Kumari vs. State of U.P. & others [WP (Crl.) 68 of 2008].
The act of the perpetrator BSF personnel attracts section 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty; section 323 (Voluntary causing heart); section 425 (Mischief).
As the victims all are from Scheduled Caste community, therefore this act of the BSF officials also attracts the provision of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Trying to kill a 15 years old child by strangulation also attracts section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000

The incident also violated Article 19 (1) (d) and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution; Article 3 (Right to equality), Article 5 (Right not to be tortured), Article 7 (Equality before law) and Article 8 (Right to effective remedy) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 3 (Right to equality), Article 6 (Right to life) and Article 7 (Right not to be tortured) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also goes against the spirit of the Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women. This heinous incident and subsequent inaction again legitimize our long-standing demand for ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) by the Government of India.
The perpetrator BSF personnel also violated the code of conduct for law enforcement officials adopted by United Nations General Assembly in 1979 which mandates that these officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.
The incident reflects the entrenched impunity in the criminal justice system and systemic attack on religious and social minorities, and women by public officials. Therefore, I seek your urgent intervention in the case by fulfilling the following demands:
  • An independent and non-partisan investigation of the incident by any august agency.
  • SC & ST Prevention of atrocities Act should be attracted against the perpetrators.
  • BSF should be posted in the actual borders not inside the villages.
  • Proceedings should be initiated against the perpetrators of the BSF and the police and strict punishment should be given if found guilty.
  • Adequate compensation for the victims from the pocket of the perpetrator BSF personnel.
  • Directions to the Mathabhanga Police Station to register one case based on the written complaint of the villagers and issue the FIR copy to the informant and start impartial investigation in respect.
  • Security and safety of the victims and their family members must be ensured.

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