Monday, July 25, 2011

End killings, abuses, HRW asks BSF watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked the Indian government to carry out investigations into fresh allegations of killings, torture and other abuses by its Border Security Force (BSF) on Bangladesh border.
Saying that killings and severe abuses continue to take place despite India’s stated commitment to abide by international principles and exercise restraint at the border, the New York-based organisation asked the Indian government to ensure prosecution of those found guilty of such crimes.
In December last year, a HRW report titled ‘Trigger Happy’ prompted the Indian authorities to announce steps to stop killings at the border, including the use of rubber bullets instead of more lethal ammunition, a HRW news release said Monday.
The report outlined extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, torture and mistreatment of both Bangladeshi and Indian nationals by the BSF over the past decade. Although there has been a significant decline in the number of deaths caused by shootings at the border this year, at least 17 Bangladeshis have allegedly been killed by BSF soldiers since January, according to Odhikar, a Bangladeshi non-governmental organisation.
Local groups documented several cases of deaths as a result of severe beatings by BSF men, as well as cases of aggressive intimidation. Earlier this year, Odhikar reported two separate incidents where cattle farmers died as a result of excessive violence.
Mizanur Rahman, 25, was allegedly beaten to death by BSF men after he crossed the border into India. His body was later dumped into the Saniyazan River. The BSF also killed Rekatul Islam, 17, as he and his accomplice tried to smuggle cattle into the neighbouring country. Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of the HRW, demanded an end to the longstanding impunity for abuses along the border.

“The [Indian] government has issued some positive new directives, but it needs to prosecute those who commit abuses so the soldiers will understand they can’t act with impunity,” she said.
The BSF is responsible for addressing illegal activities at the border, such as narcotics smuggling and human but in most cases victims were cattle rustlers, farmers, or labourers hoping to supplement their meagre livelihoods by working as couriers in the illegal cattle trade at the West Bengal border. The HRW press release concluded that Indian authorities need to do more to ensure accountability for violations committed by their border force men and to ensure compliance with international laws.