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Mamata is right, we submitted 2,000 cases of BSF atrocities; but will she act?: MASUM

Counterview Desk 

Commenting on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement that the Border Security Force (BSF) is responsible for atrocities at the Indo-Bangladesh border, human rights leader Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), has said that it is an acknowledgement of the “heinous torture” is happening at the behest of the BSF.
Claiming that MASUM has submitted “more than 2,000 cases on different BSF atrocities to BSF, state government and different human rights institutes”, despite its limited work area, even as taking note of BSF’s rebuttal, Roy said, “We can safely assume that the actual number of atrocities is much higher”, adding, “We are clueless about why the BSF is acting in such a way that they haven’t yet heard of any such complaint.”

Text:

On 26th June, Smt. Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal spoke of the atrocities of the Border Security Force (BSF) at the Indo-Bangladesh border. She spoke of alleged intimidation by the central paramilitary force and asked the populace to not be afraid. On the part of MASUM, we feel that this statement by the CM is an acknowledgement on the part of government authority that heinous torture by BSF exists in the villages at the Indo-Bangladesh border. We heartily thank the CM of West Bengal for acknowledging this fact.
Now, we will come to take a closer look at a statement by the Border Security Force, refuting this allegation. In the statement undersigned by PRO, BSF-Guwahati Frontier, they plainly and blatantly deny all these allegations. In this Statement, we will examine line to line and put forth our observations.
In the first point of the appraisal, the BSF has said that “BSF is a professional force… has never intimidated any border population or voter in the bordering areas…” Now, we, MASUM, have been working in the area for more than 25 years now. From our lived experience, we can responsibly affirm that the claim by BSF of “...never” intimidating “...border population” is nothing but a ridiculous fiction. In the last 5 years, we have encountered at least 104 cases of torture by the Border Security Forces, excluding 34 cases of extrajudicial killings, of which every single incident was brought to the notice of BSF authorities and the state.
Rather, there have been instances where the BSF has not acknowledged the directions of NHRC. In the case of Abdus Samad, a victim of extrajudicial execution by the Border Security Force, the NHRC recommended to the Home Ministry for 500 thousand rupees of compensation to the victim, which the BSF is yet to pay any heed to. The case of Felani Khatun gathered a lot of international attention. There too, the victim’s family still awaits justice. There are many more awaiting justices. 4096 kilometers long border between India Bangladesh is infamous due to mainly BSF. So, the “not intimidated” doesn’t really slice the bread.
If Union home ministry or BSF are serious about addressing problems of border population, they must admit that torture exists
In the second point of their statement they are speaking that “...No complaint of intimidating of any person in the border area has been received so far by BSF or any other sister agency.” (erroneous grammar unchanged from original text). We have submitted more than 2,000 cases on different BSF atrocities to BSF, state government and different HRIs during our existence. Withstanding the fact that our area of work is limited we can safely assume that the actual number of atrocities is much higher. We are clueless about why the BSF is acting in such a way that they haven’t yet heard of any such complaint.
So, in conclusion we want to say that the statement by BSF is as far from the reality as it can get. If the home ministry of Union Government or the BSF is even a tad bit serious about addressing the problems of the border population they must gather courage to admit the fact that “torture exists at the border where BSF is posted”, and that too with impunity of the sanction regime that further enables the perpetrators to commit such crimes. We, MASUM, thoroughly condemn this ‘full of lies’ statement by the BSF.
In the end, we would like to mention a few more things as well. While the acknowledgement of the problems of the border population is a great gesture by the CM, there are a lot many other problems than BSF torture. Per se, the population is severely marginalized due to government negligence. Also, the government of West Bengal must take action to destroy the troublesome nexus between the police and the BSF which is making the lives of people residing there, in a word, hellish. If, the government of West Bengal does not act upon these other problems of lives of the humans on the border, the statement by the CM will go down only as a gimmick in history.

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