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BSF personnel 'ignore' NHRC order, destroy West Bengal Dalit fisherman's property

Madhai and Aparna Mondal
Counterview Desk 
In a representation to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), human rights defender Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), has alleged Border Security  Force (BSF) personnel, stationed near the Indo-Bangladesh border, have "completely destroyed" a West Bengal Dalit fisherman's property, "ignoring" NHRC directives. 
Providing chronology of the MASUM complaint to NHRC, Roy said, the value of the property destroyed by BSF personnel stood at Rs 700,000, pointing out, this happened after repeated NHRC directives to BSF to allow the Dalit fisherman, Madhai Mondal, to go on fishing. 

Text:

With deep concern, we would like to inform you that no notable action has been taken to address the concerns of the residents of Amudia village in particular and Swarupnagar block or taluka in general. The village falls under the North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal. Complaints against personnel of the BSF (Border Security Force) stationed near the Indo-Bangladesh border on deliberate interference in the livelihood activities of the rural poor have largely gone unaddressed. 
We have repeatedly written to all the concerned authorities and also to your esteemed office with the hope of effective redressal of the legitimate grievances put forward by the villagers, primarily dependent on farm-based livelihood activities. A specific complaint from Ms. Aparna Mondal, wife of Mr Madhai Mondal of Amudia village, to SP Basirhat Police District  was also submitted.
Name of the victim: Ms. Aparna Mondal wife Mr. Madhai Mondal, Vill. & Post - Amudia, PS - Swarupnagar, Basirhat police district, District - North 24 Paganas. Mobile - 7319431843.
Names of the perpetrators: 1) Company Commander of Amudia BOP, 112 BN BSF; 2) Mr. J C Pan 2 IC of 112 BN BSF; 3) Mr. Jaffar Hossain Khan, 'G' Branch, 112 BN BSF; 4) Other labourers engaged by BSF to destroy properties of victims.
Date, time and place of occurrence:  On 28 November 2023, from 8 am onwards, at PATA (man made big trap for fishing at Sonai river).
Loss of property: About Rs 700000/- property of victim.

The chronological list of the complaints and related developments has been declared below:

  • NHRC case number(s) 572/25/15/2017, 2028/25/15/2020-PF and 3878/25/15/2021-PF. The complaint was lodged on 18/04/2017 and was acknowledged on 29/04/2017.
  • The complaint was transmitted to the concerned authority on 09/05/2017 with a direction to take appropriate action within 8 weeks. On 22/06/2017 the commission again directed the concerned authority to take appropriate action within 8 weeks. On the same date, we received a letter forwarded by the Under Secretary to the Govt. of India to the Director General, Border Security Force with a request to investigate the matter.
  • On 12/10/2017, Mr Biplab Mukherjee, the then secretary of MASUM sent one updated incident to your Commission in connection with a case where one poor fisherman namely Mr Madhai Mondal of Amudia village under Swarupnagar Police Station was intimidated for signing a petition against BSF. BSF personnel threatened to put him behind bars for a long period by implicating him in false NDPS cases. The BSF personnel also cut off the fishing net and broke the bamboo structure he built to catch fish.
  • On 14/04/2018 an updated incident was sent to your Commission where we mentioned that the BSF personnel of Amudia Border Out Post erected 76 temporary fences and by erecting such fences, BSF started restricting all social and economic activities of the villagers.
  • On 17/08/2018 another update of this case was sent to your Commission wherein it was reported that BSF personnel verbally abused and physically manhandled Madhai Mondal, his wife Aparna Mondal and his elder brother Krishnapada Mondal and also threatened them against continuing their livelihood activities. 
  • On 05/06/2020 another updated incident was sent to your Commission wherein BSF personnel again restricted Madhai Mondal from fishing and threatened even to shoot him if he dared to disobey their orders. On that date, the Commission received the complaint and assigned the diary number 7377/IN/2020. 
  • On 15/12/2020 another updated incident was sent to your Commission concerning the demolishment of fishing equipment and related physical infrastructure, leading to a loss of at least ₹60,000.
  • On 18/12/2020 the Commission acknowledged the complaint and registered the case vide NHRC case number 2028/25/15/2020-PF. On 25/01/2021 the complaint was transmitted to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and the District Magistrate, North 24 Parganas with the direction to take appropriate action in this regard.
  • On 11/09/2021 another complaint was sent. Mr Himadri Roy, an officer of Swarupnagar police station along with four other police personnel in civil attire threatened Mr. Madhai Mondal and directed him to visit the police station. When he visited the police station, Mr Himadri Roy again threatened him with dire consequences if he did not stop fishing. He was threatened to be implicated in several false cases with serious NDPS charges.
  • On 13.09.2021 the Commission acknowledged the complaint and registered the case vide NHRC case number 3878/25/15/2021-PF. On 18.10.2021 the complaint was transmitted to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of West Bengal and the District Magistrate, North 24 Parganas and called for a report within four weeks.
  • On 14.03.2022 we lodged another updated complaint where the Border Security Force personnel of Amudia BOP restricted the daily activities of the family members of Madhai Mondal and also constrained the fishing activities of Madhai Mondal but till date NHRC did not take cognizance of the complaint.
  • Your Commission’s order dated 25/1/21 in connection with NHRC Case No 2028/ 25/ 15/ 2020-PF was intentionally violated by the BSF personnel of Amudia BOP of 112 BN BSF. The DM of North 24 Pargana and SP of Basirhat police district failed to comply with your directions to that Dalit victim mysteriously.
  • The SP of Basirhat, after receiving specific complaint on 30 November 2023 of a cognizable offence did not take any step against the perpetrators. Though our parliament has passed specific laws in the parliament to protect the people of Dalit caste, such as, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, but the affected people are being humiliated, tortured regularly and systematic way with enjoying immunity.
It is a direct attack on the life and livelihood of Mr Madhai Mondal and his family members, along with a number of households dependent on farm-based livelihoods in villages near the international border with Bangladesh. Numerous complaints have been lodged with various administrative authorities and local bodies but no significant action has been taken. 
The NHRC has been responsive and we are thankful to the commission for transmitting our complaints to various administrative authorities. But the authorities have not acted upon those complaints. It seems that in this particular case, the BSF and police of West Bengal have no regards to your Commission and / or Indian Constitution.
Therefore, I request your office to look into this matter urgently and inquire the whole matter impartially by the Special Rapporteur, NHRC (Eastern Zone) or investigate the matter by your investigating wing and provide justice to the victim and his family members.
Thanking you in anticipation of a favourable action from your end.

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