Broken Pledges by India to End Killings, Torture at Bangladeshi Border


Border Security Force

Border Security Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 India–  Abuses  by Border force Increases

 Human Rights Watch

(New York) – Authorities in India should investigate fresh allegations of human rights violations by the Border Security Force (BSF) along the Bangladesh border and prosecute those found responsible.

Despite assurances to the Bangladesh government and public orders to exercise restraint and end unlawful killings and attacks on suspected smugglers, evidence documented and published by Indian and Bangladeshi nongovernmental organizations suggest that the BSF is once again committing abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, and ill-treatment of both Indian and Bangladeshi border residents.

“The Border Security Force has reverted to its previous tactics of unilaterally punishing suspects, defying orders from Delhi issued last year to exercise restraint and protect the right to life,” saidMeenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But the central government is also responsible, since it has failed to hold perpetrators accountable. Justice is the best deterrent against further violations.”

In December 2010, Human Rights Watch released “Trigger Happy, Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border,” which documented nearly 1,000 killings by the BSF over the last decade. In January 2011, the Indian government assured Bangladeshi officials that it would order the BSF to exercise restraint and encourage the use of rubber bullets instead of more lethal ammunition, steps welcomed by Human Rights Watch.

Although BSF attacks decreased significantly over the next year, the new evidence presented suggests that Indian border troops continue to frequently abuse both Bangladeshi citizens and Indian nationals residing in the border area. The recent allegations claim that in order to get around the restrictions on shooting at sight, BSF soldiers have been subjecting suspects to severe beatings and torture, resulting in deaths in custody.

Efforts by local residents and activists to file complaints and secure justice have resulted in threats and intimidation. The National Human Rights Commission has sought responses when allegations are filed, but without adequate witness protection complainants end up risking further abuse.

Large numbers of killings and other abuses have been reported in 2012. Odhikar, a Dhaka-based nongovernmental organization, has documented as many as 13 killings by the BSF since January 2012. Kolkata-based nongovernmental organization Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), has documented five other killings during the same time period, based on statements from witnesses and families of victims.

In one recent example, MASUM reported to the National Human Rights Commission of India that on April 22, 2012, soldiers from the BSF’s 91st battalion chased and shot 21-year-old Babu Seikh in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal. According to MASUM, Seikh, along with three of his companions, was walking toward the marshland in the evening when they were chased by BSF soldiers who fired at them without warning. After a bullet hit Seikh, MASUM says that one of his companions saw the soldiers drag an injured Sheik to their camp nearby, where he later died in custody without access to medical attention. In another case, MASUM reported that on January 1, 2012, four Indian teenagers, accosted while smuggling cattle, jumped into a rivulet to avoid punishment. The BSF soldiers allegedly beat them when they tried to come out of the water. All four boys, severely injured because of the beatings, eventually drowned.

In another case, Odhikar reported that Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, a cattle trader who bought cows from India to Bangladesh and lived in West Khodaipur village of Dinajpur district, died on February 14, 2012, due to alleged torture by BSF soldiers. Rahman was caught by BSF soldiers when smuggling cows from India. According to Odhikar, he was then severely beaten near the border at Aboiter in Hili Thana, Gangarampur district in India. He was later taken by his companions to the Upazila Health Complex in Bangladesh for medical help, where he died at around 5:30 a.m. on February 14. The post-mortem report says Rahman died due to injuries to his head. At the time of death his right eye was missing; his right jaw, ear, and gums were crushed; and some brain matter had come out through a deep wound in his upper jaw.

Last year, MASUM released a video showing BSF soldiers brutally beating a Bangladeshi national caught smuggling cattle in West Bengal state. Eight soldiers were suspended but no further information is available regarding their prosecution or punishment.

Human Rights Watch knows of no cases in which BSF soldiers have been prosecuted for violations committed along the India-Bangladesh border. This includes a highly publicized case in which a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl trapped in the wire fencing at the border was shot by the BSF in January 2011.

“While the Indian government claims that it holds its forces accountable, it produces no information to show that this is actually happening,” said Ganguly. “There appears to be complete impunity for BSF soldiers – even in the most egregious cases. Unless the government orders an independent investigation and ensures the prosecutions of those against whom credible evidence is found, such acts of brutality will continue.”

The India-Bangladesh border is heavily populated and very poor, with large numbers of people moving back and forth to visit relatives, buy supplies, and look for jobs. Others engage in petty and serious cross-border crime. The border force is mandated to address illegal activities, especially narcotics smuggling, human trafficking for sex work, and transporting fake currency and explosives. However, instead of arresting suspects and handing them over to the police for trial, BSF soldiers have taken it upon themselves to punish suspects.

Human Rights Watch called on the Indian government to do more to ensure compliance with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. Given the failure of the BSF’s internal justice system to prosecute its members for human rights abuses, personnel of all ranks implicated in serious rights abuses should be investigated by civilian authorities and tried in civilian courts. This is particularly important because the BSF is now being deployed in security operations against Maoists in central and eastern India. Considering the widespread tendency to subject local residents at the Bangladesh border to verbal and physical abuse including severe beatings, the government should ensure a transparent system of accountability that will prevent violations in these areas.

The Bangladesh government, after initially failing to address this issue, finally began to call for the protection of its citizens. In March 2011, at a joint border coordination conference, Maj. Gen. Rafiqul Islam, head of the Bangladesh border guards, called on the BSF to respect the right to life and said that individuals “must be treated innocent unless and until he or she is proved to be a criminal or offender.” BSF director-general Raman Srivastava promised “to maintain utmost restraint on the border” and also provide troops “with non-lethal weaponry.”

“It is time for the Indian government to keep its promises to end abuses and hold its forces accountable,” said Ganguly. “At the same time, Bangladeshi government should publicly demand that the Indian government end this scourge of violence along their border.”

Endless wait for return of a ‘martyr’ from Pakistan


Gautam Dheer, Apr 28, 2012 : Deccan Herald —For over three decades, 61-year old and ailing Angrez Kaur lived a life in tremulous dilemma unsure if her husband was alive or if she was a widow. 

Angrez Kaur with her son Amrik Singh (left) and grandson Ramandeep Singh.Her son Amrik Singh has only seen his father Surjit Kumar, a Border Security Force constable, in pictures hung on the walls in the house.

He was barely a month-old when Surjit went ‘missing’ in the 1971 war with Pakistan from Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

He was a Prisoner of War (Pow) in Pakistan. Three years after the war, the BSF declared Singh dead, a martyr in records.

But then the unexpected happened.

Indian prisoners repatriated from Pakistan jails in 2004 revealed that Surjit Singh was still alive and languishing in a Pakistan jail. Seven years later, the family’s endless wait for Surjit to return continues.

Kaur and his son Amrik have little choice but to cling on to hope of being one with Singh in this lifetime. BSF records still read him as a martyr and the Indian authorities haven’t been able to make tangible headway to secure the release of a martyr”.

“It has been over 40 years of pain. It’s not entirely impossible to reconcile with the loss of a loved one if you are sure of it. But it’s the prolonged uncertainty over your husband’s life that haunts me everyday,’’ Kaur said.

Ferozepur resident Satish Kumar Marwaha vouches for the fact that Surijit is alive. Surjit and Satish were in the same barrack for several years until Satish was released from a Pakistan jail.

But Surjit’s family hasn’t given up. And hope comes from Pakistan’s former
Federal Minister for Human Rights Ansar Burney.

Amrik and his uncle Dr Ajay Mehra, a medical practitioner in Faridkot, met Burney a few days ago. Hope rekindled after Burney assured them of all possible help to secure Surjit’s release.

Talking to Deccan Herald, Amrik said:

“ My mother at times gets up past midnight and wants me to talk to her about my father. She feels happy when I tell her that her prayers will be heard soon. She tells me to visit every Baba (godman) who comes to the village.’’

Kaur’s marriage was just two years old when her world fell apart after Surjit Singh went missing.

All she was then told by the BSF that her husband could have been captured as a PoW by Pakistan, or perhaps, may have even died in gunfire. His fate was sealed in 1974 when the BSF officially declared him dead, a martyr in their records.

Burney has been pursuing the matter in Pakistan since last year. In fact, it was Burney who called up Surjit’s family last year to reconfirm that the Indian soldier was alive and in a jail. Singh was awarded death penalty as a PoW in Pakistan. But, his sentence was eventually converted into life imprisonment.

All these decades he was kept at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. His jail term ended in December last year, said sources. The family has repeatedly taken up the matter with the BSF. The organisation says it has held meetings with the Pakistani Rangers to facilitate Singh’s deportation.

After Surjit did not return from the border and news of Surjit going missing poured in, Kaur returned to her parents in Faridkot town in Punjab. Kaur chose not to remarry. Amrik said, he has appro­ached all agencies for help, but his father still languishes in Pakistan jail.

The Ministry of External Affairs had told Kaur in August 2005 that the BSF had taken up the matter with the Pakistan Rangers in October 2004. But nothing worked out.
Burney said he would meet Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani for the early release of Surjit.

Angrez Kaur recalls the ordeal when her husband went missing in 1971. The government told her that Surjit went missing on December 3, 1971 night from Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

“Amrik was in my lap when my world crashed. Nobody was sure where my husband was. Something kept my belief that my husband was alive, despite the BSF formally declaring him dead in 1974. His photographs are the only memories. My son Amrik has picked up photography to make a living,” Kaur said.

Ashes of Indians in Pakistan

Ashes of at least 53 Indians, who died languishing in Pakistan jails, are still kept in Pakistan prisons.

The revelation was made by Ansar Burney during his recent visit to India last week.

Burney said he will take up the matter with the Pakistan government so that the ashes are brought to India and last rites can be performed by families here.

For Immediate Release India: Prosecute Security Forces for Torture



Recent Abuse Cases Reinforce Need to Enact Prevention of Torture Bill

(New York, January 31, 2012) – The Indian government should prosecute members of the security forces for recent high-profile cases of torture, to send a message that such practices will no longer be tolerated, Human Rights Watch said today.

Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers, long implicated in torture and extrajudicial killings near the border with Bangladesh, were captured in a video posted on YouTube brutally beating a Bangladeshi national caught smuggling cattle in West Bengal state. And the Indian government has awarded a medal to a police superintendant alleged to have ordered the torture and sexual assault of a female schoolteacher in Chhattisgarh state, instead of investigating him.

“These horrific images of torture on video show what rights groups have long documented: that India’s Border Security Force is out of control,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Indian government is well aware of killings and torture at the border, but has never prosecuted the troops responsible. This video provides a clear test case of whether the security forces are above the law in India.”

In December 2010, Human Rights Watch, together with Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a Kolkatta-based nongovernmental organization that posted the video, and Dhaka-based Odhikar, published “‘Trigger Happy’: Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border.” This report documented numerous cases of indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary detention, torture, and killings by the BSF, and highlighted the failure of the Indian government to conduct adequate investigations or prosecute troops responsible for abuses. It showed that the BSF routinely abuses both Bangladeshi and Indian nationals residing in the border area. After the report’s release, the Indian government ordered an end to the use of lethal force cease except in cases of self-defense. While the number of killings decreased, allegations of killings and torture have continued.

The video, reportedly filmed by a BSF soldier, shows members of the BSF’s 105th Battalion stripping a man, a Bangladeshi national later identified as Habibur Rahman Sheikh, tying him up and beating him, while laughing and engaging in verbal abuse. BSF personnel apparently caught Sheikh when he was engaged in smuggling cattle from India into Bangladesh. Instead of handing him over to the police as required by Indian law, they illegally detained and tortured him and then left him to make his way back home.

After MASUM released the video to local news channels, the BSF suspended eight soldiers – Sandip Kumar, Dhananjay Roy, Sunil Kumar Yadav, Suresh Chandra, Anand Kumar, Victor, Amarjyoti, and VirendraTiwari – and ordered an inquiry. However, despite clear evidence of abuse, to date no criminal charges have been filed against any soldiers.

“Whenever offenses attributed to the BSF occur, its leadership insists that there will be an internal inquiry and action taken,” said Ganguly. “But secret proceedings and suspensions or transfers won’t end the abuses. Torture is a serious crime that should be prosecuted in the courts.”

Many people routinely move back and forth across the Indian-Bangladeshi border to visit relatives, buy supplies, and look for jobs. Some engage in criminal activities, such as smuggling. The BSF is charged with intercepting illegal activities, especially narcotics smuggling, human trafficking for sex work, and transporting fake currency and explosives. It is also charged with protecting against violent attacks by militant groups.

The failure of the Indian government to prosecute authorities responsible for torture extends to all of the security forces, Human Rights Watch said. In another recent disturbing incident, Soni Sori, a schoolteacher in Chhattisgarh state, alleged that she was tortured and sexually assaulted by Chhattisgarh state police while in custody in October 2011. After her arrest as a suspected Maoist supporter, a criminal court in Chhattisgarh state handed her over to police custody for interrogation despite her pleas that she feared for her safety and life. Sori alleges that Ankit Garg, then-superintendent of police for Dantewada district, ordered the torture and sexual assault. The Indian Supreme Court ordered Sori’s transfer to the Kolkata medical college hospital for an independent medical examination. In November 2011, the examination report corroborated Sori’s allegations of physical abuse.

To date, the Indian authorities have not initiated any inquiry or criminal action against the police officers implicated. Instead of investigating the case, on Republic Day, January 26, 2012, the president of India, Pratibha Patil, presented Ankit Garg with a police medal for gallantry. The medal drew widespread condemnation.

The Indian government announced, in March 2011, a rape compensation package for all sexual assault victims, but even basic follow-up reproductive and sexual health services have yet to be made available to survivors like Soni Sori. One of her lawyers told Human Rights Watch that Sori, who is detained in Raipur central jail in Chhattisgarh, has not received any follow-up reproductive and sexual health care. Her hemoglobin count has dropped considerably and she has complained of reproductive health problems but her lawyer is concerned that she will not receive adequate medical care without obstruction by the Chhattisgarh police. During her stay at the Raipur medical college hospital for medical examination and treatment in October, the Chhattisgarh police forced the doctors to remove her intravenous drip, refusing to let her stay in the hospital.

“Soni Sori’s case epitomizes the callousness with which victims of torture are treated in India,” Ganguly said. “The Indian government shamefully presents a trophy to someone implicated in torture, while doctors cannot even treat a torture survivor without police obstruction.”

Human Rights Watch called upon the Indian government to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to enact the Prevention of Torture bill, which is currently awaiting cabinet approval and before it is voted on by the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament. The law should override all provisions of Indian law that allow government officials immunity from prosecution for human rights violations. It should also ensure that adequate time is given for victims to be able to file complaints, and that all forms of inhuman and degrading treatment are brought under the purview of the law.

“The BSF, the police, and other members of the security forces operate with impunity throughout India,” said Ganguly. “When will the government in Delhi wake up and act to end torture and other human rights abuses?”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on India, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/india

Next Newer Entries

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,228 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,839,719 hits

Archives

April 2021
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: