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Innocents Being Killed By BSF: Time For Intervention?

Posted on June 27, 2011 in The Opinionated, YKA Editorials
Felani (15), who was left hanging after being shot dead.

By Anshul Tewari:

Early in January, Felani Begum, 15, was returning to Bangaldesh with her father, from Delhi. She had a marriage proposal awaiting her back home in her village Kurigram, Bangladesh. While her father did manage to cross the border using a ladder, Felani’s clothes got stuck in the barbed wire at the border, after which she started calling out to her father for help. On hearing her voice, India’s Border Security Force (BSF) made no efforts to catch her and interrogate her on crossing the border (which is the protocol),  but instead shot the minor. Even after being shot, Felani kept shouting for water and help but none of the BSF officers rushed to her. They waited for her to die in pain, and left her body hanging on the fence of the border. The photograph of the incident is evident of the barbarism of the BSF.

On April 18, 2011, a Bangladeshi cattle trader was slain and another was wounded when Indian Border Security Force opened fire on them in Gazipur frontiers in Satkhira while they were bathing in the river.

Earlier this year, the BSF was also held guilty of killing a teenager in Kashmir, and many more such incidents have been brought to light till date.

The Border Security Force, which was formed to keep a check of the border and perform their duties as protectors of the nation from elements of violence, has  now become a barbaric force.

In 2006, BSF officials admitted to having killed 59 illegals (34 Bangladeshis, 21 Indians, rest unidentified) who were trying to cross the border during the prior six months. In July 2009 Channel 4 News reported that hundreds of Bangladeshis and Indians are indiscriminately killed by the BSF along the Indo-Bangladeshi Barrier. The BSF claims that the barrier’s main purpose is to check illegal immigration, and prevent cross-border terrorism. Bangladeshi media accused the BSF of abducting 5 Bangladeshi children, aged between 8 and 15, from the Haripur Upazila in Thakurgaon District of Bangladesh, in 2010. The children were setting fishing nets near the border.

In 2010, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a 81 page report which detailed hundreds of abuses by the BSF. The report was compiled from interviews with victims of BSF shootings, witnesses and members of the BSF and its Bangladeshi counterpart. The report alleged that over 900 Bangladeshi citizens have been killed in the first decade of the 21st century by the BSF. According to HRW, while most of them were killed when they crossed into Indian territory for indulging in cattle rustling or other smuggling activities, many were also killed in BSF’s indiscriminate firing across the border. (source)

The BSF does not come under the purview of the Army and is a part of the paramilitary forces of India and under the direct administration of the Ministry of Home Affairs. With a strength of about 240,000 personnel, it is one of the world’s largest border patrol forces.

Do you think it is time for better border security formulation, that not just keeps a check on illegal migration but also does not engage in indiscriminate killing? Is it time for the Ministry of Home Affairs to intervene?