The Border Security Force (BSF) which guards India’s borders with Bangladesh did not reveal further details of the action taken against eight jawans who in January 2012 had intercepted a 26-year-old Bangladeshi national on India-Bangladesh border after which he died.
This newspaper had sought the details of the action taken against the jawans through a Right to Information (RTI) query, but the BSF stated that it is “exempted from the purview of the RTI Act except in cases of corruption and human rights violations”. The reply by BSF further states that the “persons involved in the incident have been dealt with as per the BSF Act and rules and suitable punishment were given to them.”
In January 2012, a Bangladeshi national was caught by the BSF personnel in Kaharpara BOP (border outpost) near Mohanganj along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border after he sneaked into India to allegedly steal cattle. Sheikh was caught, stripped naked and thrashed in full view by apparently uniformed personnel, who took turns to beat him. In one part of the video, the personnel beating him hands over the stick to his colleague so that he can have tea. The incident had come to light after a video clipping of the entire incident, that was shot by someone present on his mobile phone, got leaked. The 11-minute video clearly shows the group of men brutally kicking the Bangladeshi man.
Later, the man was pushed back to the Bangladeshi side of the fence following which he was admitted to a primary healthcare unit where he succumbed to injuries suffered. According to officials, the man was a resident of Bangladesh’s Chapai-Nawabganj district located just across the border from Murshidabad.
Sources in the Home Ministry said that the eight jawans involved in the act were suspended “for some time”. According to BSF officials, such kind of “activity” was common along the India-Bangladesh border where cattle smuggling was rampant due to which the BSF was many times forced to take retaliatory action. “Cattle smuggling is rampant in that area and unless a fear of the BSF is maintained among the smugglers, smuggling does not stop and hence sometimes the jawans posted in these areas may use more force than necessary,” an official with the MHA said.