Friday, January 27, 2012

Why are BSF men so angry?

NEWTON'S third law of motion certainly doesn't work on the India-Bangladesh border, because what Indian Border Security Force does unto Bangladeshi citizens aren't reportedly done unto Indian citizens by Border Guards of Bangladesh and weren't reportedly done by its predecessor Bangladesh Rifles. The comparison is not intended to provoke retaliation from the Bangladesh side, but to draw an obvious contrast between the border guarding forces of the two countries for a valid reason. If BGB or BDR could exercise restraint on this side of the border, why is BSF on that side so brazen in its behaviour?

The Indian border guards have been in the news again after eight of their men stripped, kicked, and mercilessly beat up a young Bangladeshi named Habibur Rahman apparently because he refused to bribe them or didn't bribe them enough. Should every action have an equal and opposite reaction, Indians should have occasionally received similar treatment in the hands of Bangladeshi border guards. But that didn't happen in last one decade when BSF killed at least 1,000 Bangladeshi nationals and maimed many times more.

This is not only amazing, but also interesting. How is it possible that two forces on two sides of the border could be so dissimilar in temperament? One side is decent and composed. The other side is psychotic and ruthless.

In his reaction to the latest depravity of BSF men, our LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam said something that ought to shock sensible people out of their wits. In his view the state doesn't need to worry about everything that happens on the border. He listed smuggling, drug dealing and cattle trade as causes of border incidents, which lead to disputes followed by abominable atrocities. 

If we are to believe in that grandiose theory of state minimalism, then India shouldn't have so promptly suspended those BSF jawans involved in the December 9 incident and ordered a full investigation into the matter. It's obvious that our honourable minister has missed the point. The state is like a circle whose center is nothing unless one has also drawn its circumference. 

An Indian diplomat once told me that the border incidents merely revealed the sultry side of paltry business interests when deals go sour between the smugglers and the security forces. If that is true then it makes the title question of this essay ring out even louder. Why do deals always go wrong with BSF men, since BGB men are not involved in harsh treatment of Indian citizens?

How it happens is a mystery. If it takes two hands to clap, so does smuggling. Smugglers carry goods across the border from one side to another, and every transaction encompasses both sides. That means every transaction must have the blessings of both sides, which should have similar interests in the game. But what disturbs BSF so much that they must get more upset than BGB?

Perhaps the Indian authorities should investigate more into that aspect of their border security men. It's more important to find why they get so angry instead of what they do after they get angry. May be they should also compare and contrast their men with our men to understand why two groups handling similar burdens of anxiety and temptation should demonstrate such disparate mindsets?

If the members of a trained force of the world's largest democracy can so brutally torture an ordinary foreign national as shown on the video clip, it should be a matter of grave concern for rest of the world. As neighbour, we should be particularly worried about what lurks in the heart of that monolithic state that raises so much aggression in its men. That is where, our LGRD minister should know, the state is responsible for its border more than merely defending it.

Because a nation is both centrifugal and centripetal in the nature of its business that simultaneously pull it towards the centre and push it towards the circumference. Indian daily The Hindu has asked its government to apologise for the misdemeanour of its security men. It was the Indians who nursed Habibur after he was left for dead in a mustard field. It was Indian television channel NDTV which first broke the news of the barbaric act.

These are telltale signs that Indians are lucky to have achieved a certain amount of balance when the state can't avoid responsibility for what happens on its border. But that is all the more reason to ask why Indian border guards should be inordinately ruthless. Last week the Indian smugglers abducted a BGB member subsequently returned by BSF, which was a disturbing sign of sordid connections between the law and the outlaw. 

India should know that BSF is destroying more bridges in the hearts of Bangladeshi people than Delhi hopes to build and repair. 

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