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Plea to NHRC: Fairly investigate into 'enforced disappearance' of youth off Bangla border

Counterview Desk 
In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman, human defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity  (PACTI), has said that his fact finding team has found out how the Border Security Force personnel are responsible for allegedly "enforced disappearance of a minority youth" off the border with Bangladesh. 
Roy demanded that the NHRC should "fairly intervene" in the case, as the "right of the family of the deceased victim for a fair enquiry has been denied and such denial is still in continuation.

Text: 

I wish to attract your attention over the systematic use of enforced disappearance practice by Border Security Force (BSF) personnel in 24 Parganas (North) to initiate an era of brutality at the said area of Indo- Bangladesh bordering area of West Bengal.
Through our fact finding it has been reported that the BSF illegally apprehended, tortured the victim to death and then instrumental in disappearing the body. From the time of incident the body of the victim could not be traced. The mother of the disappeared victim in this incident, Mrs. Nokila Mondal lodged complaints to the Swarupnagar police station, Superintendent of Police of 24 Parganas (North) and Sub Divisional Officer of Basisrhat sub division of 24 Parganas (North) district but authority failed to trace out the victim.
It must be mentioned here that enforced disappearance is considered to be the worst form of crime as the feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects their communities and society as a whole. It also an act of destruction of evidence of crime. This case is also adding up to the list of murders by Border Security Force, where the higher officials and police administration in a nexus, tries to save the perpetrators. It is also to be mentioned that the place of the incident is well inside Indian Territory from border of Bangladesh.
The perpetrator Border Security force personnel not only violated the rights guaranteed in Article 21 of Indian Constitution but also the premise of Article 7 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the Goal number 8 and 16 of Sustainable Development Goal earmarked by United Nations and in both these international instruments; the government of India is a party and have agreement. The incident and subsequent impunity legitimize our long standing demand for immediate ratification of United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment and Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The perpetrators also violated the article 2, 3 and 8 of Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials; Adopted by General Assembly resolution 34/169 of 17 December 1979. The perpetrator Border Security Force personnel also made offence under section 201 of Indian Penal Code for causing disappearance of evidence in order to screen their offence. I am sorry to say that thousands of incidents of torture, killing and disappearance by men in uniform have been reported to NHRC and other governmental agencies but no proper remedial or corrective measures have been taken.
I hope that the Commission would fairly intervene in this present case as the right of the family of the deceased victim for a fair enquiry has been denied and such denial is still in continuation.
Under the circumstances we demand: 
  • BSF should be posted in actual borders and not inside villages.
  • The whole incident must be investigated by Commission’s own investigating team.
  • In first instance while the mother of the victim made a written complaint to the Swarupnagar PS on 15th of December 2023, no FIR has been registered, later while she made the similar complaint to the Superintendent of Police on 26th December 2023, FIR has been registered, thus punitive action must be initiated against the on duty police personnel of Swarupnagar PS.
  • Immediate direction should be given to the concerned authorities for taking necessary action to recover the body of the disappeared victim.
  • The guilty Border Security Force personnel involved must be booked and prosecuted in open court of law.
  • The police and BSF administration must take appropriate steps to control cross border smuggling in bordering villages instead of collaborating with the smugglers.
  • The family of the victim must be duly compensated and security and safety of the witnesses and family members must be ensured.
  • Any other action as the Commission may deem fit and proper.
***
Name of the Victim: Mr. Milan Mondal, son of Late Arshad Mondal, aged about 33 years, by faith - Muslim, other backward caste, by occupation an agrarian wage labour and part time involvement in cross border smuggling of goods as mere courier, without possessing agrarian land, resident of village- Daharkanda, Police Station- Swarupnagar, Block - Swarupnagar, Gram Panchayet- Bithari- Hakimpur, Post Office - Hakimpur - 743273, District - 24 Parganas (North), West Bengal. Aadhar card no. 418181583594
Name of the secondary victims: (i) Ms.Nokila Mondal, aged about 54 years, mother of the victim. (ii) Master Hasan Mondal, aged about 6 years, son of the victim. All are residing at village Daharkanda Police Station- Swarupnagar, Block - Swarupnagar, Gram Panchayet- Bithari- Hakimpur, Post Office - Hakimpur - 743273, District - 24 Parganas (North), West Bengal.
Thousands of incidents of torture, killing and disappearance have been reported to NHRC, yet no proper remedial measures have been taken
Date & Time of the incident: On 14.12.2023 at about 5:30 pm and thereafter.
Place of the incident:  At the bank of Sonai river inside Indian territory, between 7 and 8 No. BSF OP of Bithari BOP of BSF Battalion No. 112 .
Details of the perpetrators: 1) Border Security Force personnel who were on duty at the mentioned date and time of the incident at the OP number 7 and 8 at the bank of Sonai river, attached with Bithari BOP of 112 Battalion of BSF, 2) Mr. Rabindra Kumar Yadav, Company Commander of BSF, 3) Officer in Charge of Swarupnagar Police Station and 4) on duty police personnel of Swarupnagar Police Station.
Details of the witnesses: 1. Mr. Jubbar Sardar, son of Ajgar Sardar of Village - Padmabila, Post Office - Hakimpur, Police Station - Swarupnagar 2. Ms. Abeda Sardar, daughter of Late Dhanai Sardar, Village - Padmabila, Post Office - Hakimpur, Police Station - Swarupnagar 3. Ms. Nazma Bibi, daughter of Ater Ali, village- Daharkanda, Post Office - Hakimpur, Police Station- Swarupnagar
Fact Finding Report of MASUM:  The victim Milan Mondal lost his father and subsequently his wife. 23 years ago his widow mother returned to her paternal village and started living with Milan. They don’t posses a piece of land for agriculture and sustaining without any regular income. Nokila Mondal; mother of the victim used to work as agrarian labour. Milan Mondal’s wife died four and half years ago due to blood cancer, leaving a boy child, who is 6 years old now and totally dependent on his father, the victim. Milan Mondal has part time involvement in cross border smuggling as courier like almost all unemployed youth of that area. Presently none from the area has been allotted with MGNRGEA work.  We found that the poverty alleviation and self employment schemes of state and central government is not reaching the masses in this area. Milan’s mother is getting 5 kilogram of rice and 3 kilogram flour per month from ration shop free of cost.
On 14th of December 2023, Milan left his home at around 5 pm and reached at the bank of Sonai river (between 7 and 8 OP of BSF ) with a bag consisting few bottles of Phnsydil (an Indian brand of cough syrup). The on duty BSF personnel of OP number 7 and 8 encircled and captured/ detained him. At this very moment, the people of that area and passerby heard sound of gun shot (which the witnesses confirmed later) and within few minutes two BSF vehicles; one green coloured jeep and one black bigger vehicle reached at the spot of occurrence, and BSF personnel started restricting villagers to reach the spot. Ms. Nazma Bibi, a witness informed the fact finding team that the gun shot sound which she heard was just few minutes before the entry of BSF vehicles at the place of occurrence and subsequent restriction made by BSF to reach the bank of Sonai river. From that time only, there is no trace of Milan Mondal. At around 7.15 pm, Mr. Kalimuddin Molla, son of Samsuddin Molla of village Daharkanda; who employed Milan Mondal to smuggle the goods called Milan on his mobile from his mobile (Kalimuddin Molla’s mobile number 8670565770 and Milan Mondal’s mobile number 9800168796) but the call was received by one BSF personal, who informed that he picked the mobile phone from bank of the Sonai river along with a Gamcha (towel). Later on 15th December 2023 at around 12 noon, someone informed the mother of the victim that Milan’s trouser, t-shirt and sandals were lying at the bank of the river, which she collected from the spot. Milan’s mother Nakila Mondal visited Swarupnagar PS on 15th December 2023 with a written complaint, which has been entered as GDE No. 702/23 dated 15/12/2023 but that was not transmitted into FIR.. On 15.12.2023, police personnel from Swarupnagar PS, villagers, professional divers and BSF collectively made search operation but in vain.
The mother of the victim made another subsequent appeal to the police officials and in this course on 26th December, she made complaints to the Superintendent of Police of Basirhat Police District and requested him for the whereabouts of her son. This complaint was registered as Swarupnagar PS Case No. 768/23 dated 26.12.2023 under sections 302 and 201of Indian Penal Code against unknown BSF personnel of Bithari BOP of 112 Battalion of BSF.
The local administration and Gram Panchayet members, named Hakim Gain, a Gram Panchayet member and Illiyas Gazi; husband of Gram Panchayet member Ms. Rupsa Gazi are intimidating and threatening the family members and witnesses and asking the mother of the victim to withdraw the complaint. On 31.12.2023 evening, BSF personnel with a convoy from Bithari BOP of 112 BSF Battalion visited the house of Jubbar Sardar; a witness, and pressurised him and ask him to keep mum.
As the place of occurrence (river bank of Sonai) is under the jurisdiction and complete control of BSF and BSF personnel are present there to guard the area, it is evident that only they have the whereabouts of the victim, secondly the mobile phone set is with one BSF personal also corroborating their involvement. The place of occurrence is being heavily guarded by BSF personnel, in this situation none other can put the apparels and slippers of the victim at the bank of the river, so it is clear that Milan was apprehended/ captured by BSF personnel and only they have the whereabouts of Milan Mondal.

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