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Prosecute BSF personnel for torturing woman near West Bengal border fence

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, on a woman physically assaulted by BSF in routine manner in public place and falsely implicated:

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I would like to draw your immediate attention to the incident of Mrs. Sahida Bibi, 42 years of age, resides at village Gobra (Brahmonpara) under Block & Police Station Swarupnagar at North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, who suffered torture by a BSF person from D Company, 112 Battalion of BOP Mihir (Gobindapur).
Around 9 am on 27th December 2022, Sahida Bibi was on the way to her field. At Gate No 18 of the border fences, Avijit Sil, a BSF man questioned about the lunch box she was carrying and found beef meat. He suddenly kicked the lunch box, the food littered on the ground and severely beat her while the victim lady fell on the ground.
The incident entails an apparent violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of which India is a party. The incident and subsequent impunity legitimize our long-standing demand for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment.
Hence, I seek your intervention in the aforementioned incident with the following demands to get justice:
1. Under the particular law, should prosecute the perpetrator BSF personnel under appropriate penal provisions in an open court of law based on the complaint by the victim to the Officer in Charge of Swarupnagar Police Station, North 24 Parganas.
2. Recommend the authorities take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological security and integrity of the victim.
3. BSF authority should compensate her for all the medical expenses the victim incurred.
4. BSF of Mihir (Gobindapur) BOP should immediately withdraw the false FIR against Sahida Bibi.
5. Training needed for BSF persons that they should be devoid of communal identity while dealing with people who reside at the border area.

Fact-finding Report

Around 9 am on 19th December 2022, Sahida Bibi was on her way to work, accompanied by her son Omar Osman Khan, who is a fifth-grade student. On the CPWD road at the Gate No 18 at the border fence, where she met BSF Constable Avijit Seal, who enquired about the tiffin box she was carrying. The box had her lunch – rice and a few pieces of beef meat. About to show him of the content in the box, the constable was furious knowing the beef items he immediately kicked for which all the eatable items littered on the ground. The lady protested and questioned his behavior, while the constable used filthy languages. Suddenly the constable started beating her with a stick, pushed her on the ground but the thrashing continued. And in the course of action, the constable tore her saree and blouse. In the meantime, Post Commander of BOP Gobra, arrived on the spot and repeatedly ordered the constable To stop doing the nuisance and let him leave the lady. But the Avijit Seal ignored the order and continued thrashing. Later the lady complained of the incident to the Company Commander of BOP Mihir (Gobindapur) but no action was taken by him against the offender. Later in the day, the lady sensing a medical urgency visited the emergency department at Sarapul Rural Hospital at Swarupnagar Block. Sahida Bibi lodged a complaint to the local police station and based on that complaint Swarupnagar P.S. (Case No.1195/2022 dated 27th December 2022) was registered against the perpetrator BSF Avijit Seal, 112 Battalion. She narrated the whole incident to the Officer in Charge of Swarupnagar Police Station, a copy of FIR was attached along with this mail. I have attached the scan copies of her medical reports and FIR, along with this complaint. Zakir Hossain Fakir, a farmer, was the sole witness to the incident with Sahida Bibi. Based on her complaint on the night of 27th December 2022, the officers from Swarupnagar PS spoke to some of the witnesses of the incident and then they met the concerned person at the Gobra BOP. In retaliation, BSF too filed a complaint at Swarupnagar P.S. (Case No.1199/22 dated 27th December 2022 under section 188/506) against the victim Sahida Bibi. During the fact-finding MASUM noted that many people who were witness to the incident, due to the fear of BSF, had kept mum. In the meantime, the FIR by BSF against Sahida Bibi, the ACJM Basirhat had granted bail which she was falsely subjected to. On 22nd January 2023, two BSF men visited her house with a letter written in English, and asked her to sign on the paper. The lady is illiterate and does not understand what is written on the paper. Sensing some abnormality, on the advice of the panchayat Pradhan and other villagers she refused to sign the letter. Since the incident, BSF men are pressing her to withdraw the case against them by forcing her to sign on a written statement which is ineligible to her.

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