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Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk 
West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".
Roy says, this is part of the BSF seeking to impose "arbitrary illegal restrictions" and "unlawful decree" prohibiting the cultivation of crops like maize, bajra, jute, banana, even has threatened to destroy the agricultural fields if any such crop is cultivated. He adds, this is "in abject violation of the fundamental right of the villagers to pursue their livelihood for their subsistence, as well as goes against the directive principle to promote agriculture and animal husbandry."

Text:

I am writing to inform you of a case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel on the lands of one very poor minority farmer in the Beledanga Khamarpara village under Katlamari-1 Gram Panchayat, on the Indo-Bangladesh border, under the jurisdiction of Raninagar Police Station, Raninagar-2 Block, Murshidabad district, West Bengal.
The following is the name and details of the affected farmer:
Mr. Anarul Molla (S/o Late Taher Molla, 61 y/o, Muslim), resident of:
Beledanga Khamarpara Village, Katlamari-1 GP, 
P.O.: Katlamari, P.S. Raninagar, Raninagar-2 block, Murshidabad,
West Bengal, PIN: 742308.
He owns the following agricultural land:
·         Mouza: Katlamari
·         Khatiyan no.: 13986
·         Dag no.: 121
The perpetrators are armed BSF personnel belonging to:
 - 73rd Battalion BSF, posted at Kaharpara BOP, Outpost no. 3
 - Officer-in-Charge, Raninagar Police Station
In the night of 16th February, 2024, BSF personnel of the 73rd Battalion, posted at Kaharpara Border Outpost no. 3, committed mischief upon 20 kathas of banana plantation on Anarul Molla’s aforedescribed land – where the cultivated banana were of prime quality and ready for harvest, incurring an estimated loss of about 60,000 INR for Anarul Molla (about 100 trees), each yielding a banana produce of approximately 600 INR). This part of his agricultural land lies on the other side of the border fence, but well within the Indian Territory; as the border fence has been erected on both sides of the Indo-Bangladesh border road (IBBR) passing through the village, instead of along the actual border delineated by the International Border Pillars (IBP). This kind of erratic fencing is actually very common along the Indo-Bangladesh border passing through West Bengal, and causes persistent harassment to the villagers and restrictions on their life and livelihood in all villages along the Indo-Bangladesh Border.
The aforedescribed act by BSF personnel of the 73rd Battalion is an act of illegal trespass on private land and damage to agricultural crop, perpetrated by the BSF personnel with complete impunity. Mr. Anarul Molla depends on the produce of his land to sustain his entire family; and all of his banana harvest thus damaged, he has been dealt an irreparable blow to his livelihood and subsistence, and he has no alternate means to sustain their families. The entire village of Beledanga is inhabited by farmers like him, with much of their agricultural lands on the other side of the border – and BSF often imposes arbitrary illegal restrictions on them, which they have no authority to. BSF has also unlawfully issued a decree prohibiting the cultivation of crops like maize, bajra, jute, banana, and even has threatened to destroy the agricultural fields if any such crop is cultivated; which is in abject violation of the fundamental right of the villagers to pursue their livelihood for their subsistence, as well as goes against the directive principle to promote agriculture and animal husbandry.
On 17th February, 2024, Mr. Molla, on receiving news of this massacre, approached the company commander to report the matter, and hoping for redressal – but he was viciously insulted and threatened and driven out. No complaint or report was registered by the BSF with the local police station before destroying said property, nor was the felled banana crop submitted to the government, and banana crop worth 60,000 INR was usurped by the defaulter BSF.
Thereafter, on 20th February, 2024, he submitted a written complaint to the Raninagar Police Station, through WhatsApp messaging, from +919647319275 (his son, Sohel Badsha’s phone number) to +919147888536 (phone number of the Officer in charge, Raninagar Police Station), reqesting redressal, compensation, and protection from harassment by the BSF. The police have taken no initiative to apprehend the accused company commander or other BSF personnel, or to arrange for a compensation for the damaged crop. No FIR has been registered either, despite clear and cognizable offences done by the BSF personnel. This only exposes an unholy nexus between the BSF and the police that has only served to enhance the impunity enjoyed by the BSF.
Although the aforesaid land is Mr. Molla’s private property, it is placed under 24x7 surveillance by armed BSF and there is no chance of causing damage to the property of victim other than posted BSF, and such act would be impossible without the direction and knowledge of the company commander responsible for guarding Outpost no. 3, Kaharpara.
Mr. Molla as well as other farmers in Beledanga village, Raninagar-2, Murshidabad district, West Bengal are extremely scared after this incident – seeing the absolute impunity of the BSF, and due to persistent threats from the BSF to damage their crops.
In this situation, we request your immediate intervention with the following demands, hoping to reinstate the rule of law, and put a check on the impunity of the Border Security Force:
1.    The affected farmer Mr. Anarul Molla must be compensated by BSF immediately, as per estimate, to the amount of 60,000 INR.
2.    An FIR must be lodged against the accused Company Commander of Kaharpara BOP and O/C of Raninagar PS and investigations must begin post-haste.
3.    BSF must immediately stop harassing farmers in the village and must not be allowed the impunity for loss / damage of private property.
4.    The border fence must be erected at the actual Indo-Bangladesh border delineated by the IBPs, instead of being erected along the IBBR passing through the village, well inside Indian Territory. Border Security Force personnel should also be posted at the actual Indo-Bangladesh border, instead of inside the Indian Territory.

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