Killings, torture, molestations hallmark of BSF in West Bengal: Report

Kolkata, January 24 (KMS): The year 2021 witnessed 10 extrajudicial killings and 19 incidents of torture and molestation by Indian Border Security Force and Central Industrial Security Force personnel in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar, Murshidabad, Nadia and other districts. The victims were Muslims, Dalits, and OBCs including women and children.

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a rights group in Bengal, said that they have filed complaints on 19 incidents of torture by BSF in these four districts. The highest numbers of cases 13 were recorded from Cooch Behar.

“People residing at Indo-Bangladesh border villages are subjected to severe human rights violation including imposed restrictions, brutal tortures, and even executions by the men in uniform,” read MASUM report.

Six men were killed by Border Security Force personnel in 2021, according to MASUM. Four of them were Cooch Behar while one was from Murshidabad and another was from North 24 Parganas.

The killed were Samser Pramanick, Allaudin Gazi, Prakash Barman, Lutfar Rahman, Jaydul Haque, and Bharat Mondal.

While all were killed in firing, Mondal was tortured to death in custody.

In a violent turn to the Assembly elections in West Bengal in 2021 April, four Muslims, including an 18-year-old, were killed in firing by Central Industrial Security Force personnel at a polling station in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district where voting was underway for the fourth phase.

In four cases, women were molested by male BSF personnel. In most of the cases, police had taken no action, says MASUM. “It is apparent from the cases that torture is used as an instrument to discriminate against and intimidate minorities while also taking undue advantage of their vulnerability,” the rights group alleges.

MASUM’s annual report narrates incidents of torture by India’s border guarding organisation.

Jerina Mondal, a Dalit woman (name changed) was tortured and molested by male BSF officers while she was returning to her home. Another Dalit woman Srijani Haldar (name changed) went to Bhimpur police station to complain following she was sexually harassed by BSF men. The FIR was only registered after a week from lodging the complaint. More than 10 months have passed but no probe has been initiated by the cops so far.

Rahela Bibi, a widow Muslim woman who is a resident of Char Parashpur village in Murshidabad, was brutally beaten up by BSF personnel when she was carrying beef for consumption, a day before Eid.

Two minor girls were also targeted by male BSF personnel. Moumita Khatun (name changed), a minor girl was assaulted and sexually harassed by the BSF Company Commandant while another girl Suraiya Parvin was restricted to going to the agriculture field and illegally detained in the BSF outpost.

“Ainal Sheikh, a young Muslim man was severely tortured in the BSF camp using horrific methods. He was also threatened against reporting the incident. Ahammad Ali was brutally beaten up by BSF after they disallowed him from using pesticides on his crops. Ainal Haque was brutally tortured for not following the unethical order of the BSF jawans to cut the ropes with which cows were barred in the field of Bangladesh side,” the report states.

Indian citizens, mostly Muslims, were falsely accused as Bangladeshi citizens and brutally tortured by BSF personnel, the report said.

Dil Ajmali and his mother were targeted by the BSF officers after they were called “Bangladeshis.”