Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let innocent millions be killed but not a single perpetrator in uniform in India be punished

West Bengal,

It is alleged that Mr. Atiur Rahman was under rigorous custodial torture and subsequently shoot from service arms of BSF personnel on 21st March 2010 night near Saidapur village in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. Even after that they never cared to take him to any doctor for medical aid and they themselves declared him dead. It is a sheer violation of guideline set by NHRC, where it is clearly mentioned that the same is to be proceeded by a Magistrate and the next of kin of the deceased must invariably be associated.

However, the BSF authorities presented their predictable and clich├ęd version of ‘encounter death’ stating ‘smuggler attacking the on-duty BSF personnel during their intervention and on self-defence the BSF personnel had to fire’. This has become so common a state-of-affair to torture and kill innocent villagers and subsequently implicate them in smuggling case or placing a sickle or other common tool in the place of incident which is otherwise found with any agrarian villager; that people are afraid to become witness even if they have some information on the matter. Subsequently, multiple procedures of NHRC guidelines in case of ‘encounter death’ have not been followed in the follow-up action.

It has often been observed that instead of capturing an alleged smuggler and handing him/them over to police authorities and bring to judicial trial procedure, they indulge into killing the person thus forfeiting any opportunity to hear the version of other party amounting to violation of principle of natural justice.

This incident once more establishes the fact that the right to life and liberty of people residing in the nearby villages in Indo-Bangladesh border area is at peril in the hands of the Border Security Force.

Despite repeated complaints to various administrative authorities, the perpetrator BSF personnel are enjoying complete impunity and hence continuing their atrocities time and again on the populace. Due to their extreme barbaric atrocity and subsequent impunity, BSF personnel has become a ‘torture agent’ to poor villagers instead of ‘protector of country borders’.

Case Details

Name of the Victim :- Mr. Atiur Rahman (deceased), son of Mr. Mesher Ali, aged 24 years, religion – Islam, resident of village – Puthiya (Jamtala), Post Office – Barjumla, Police Station (PS) – Raghunath Ganj, District – Murshidabad, West Bengal, India.

Name of the Perpetrators:- (1) Mr. Sunil Kumar Singh, Border Security Force (BSF) Constable (No. 93106790), (2) Mr. Ajeet Singh, BSF Constable (No. 08254607) of Outpost (OP) No. 8 of Bahura BSF Border Observation Point (BOP) under ‘E’ company of 105 Battalion BSF, and (3) Company Commandant, ‘E’ company of 105 Battalion BSF.

Place of Incident:- At Afflux baandh (dam) near Saidapur adjacent to the OP No. 8 of Bahura BSF BOP camp, PS – Raghunath Ganj, District – Murshidabad, West Bengal.

Date of Incident:- On 21st March 2010 at about 9 PM.

Detail of Incident:-

Mr. Atiur Rahman, a recently married young small-scale businessman of Puthiya (Jamtala) village, an area adjacent to Indo-Bangladesh border was returning from his aunt’s (Ms. Mariyam Biwi, wife of Mr. Omar Ali, village – Saidapur, PO – Sommati nagar, PS – Raghunath Ganj) house along with his cousin brother Mr. Rahabul Seikh (son of Mr. Rezaul Seikh) at around 9 PM. On the way, they were blocked by two BSF personnel namely Mr. Sunil Kumar Singh and Mr. Ajeet Singh – both constables, and without showing any reason attempted to take them under their custody. As the villagers of those areas are already alert about BSF atrocities, sensing some uncalled for threat, they tried to escape the clutch of those two BSF constables. While Mr. Rhabul managed to get away, Mr. Atiur Rahman fall prey to those constables’ torment. They started beating him brutally with rifle butt, boots etc. and later fired two bullets from Mr. Sunil’s service rifle and killed Mr. Atiur Rahman.

In the mean time Mr Rahabul informed Mr. Atiur’s family members that the latter was taken into BSF captive. Mr. Matiur Rahman, brother of Mr. Atiur states, “As we came to know about the dreadful incident, we immediately approached the Gram Pradhan (head of village level administration). He advised us to make a written complaint on the matter to the police in the next morning. However, in the morning, we came to know from fellow villagers that my brother has been killed by BSF firing and his body is lying on the field near Padma river banks. As we, family members and neighbours tried to approach the dead body, the armed BSF personnel vehemently obstructed us. It was so clearly evident from the dead body (photo attached) that he was cruelly tortured to the extent of twisting and breaking his arms before shooting him. Later, he was shot at left abdomen and another bullet fired at his forehead from point-blank range.” The bullet which was fired at the victim’s forehead pierced his head and entered almost one foot deep into the soil. The police personnel of Raghunath Ganj PS collected the fired portion of bullet from soil in front of the witnessing villagers. It is quite evident from this fact that, while firing this bullet, the victim was made to lie down on his back and was shot to kill. It is confirmed by us later from the investigating officer (IO), Mr. Ratan Kumar Choudhury, Sub-Inspector that the fired portion of the bullet is collected and kept under police custody.

However, the BSF version of the incident (as per their complaint to police) reflects the same old story of attack on BSF personnel by smugglers and they had to fire in self-defence. The Company Commander of 105 Bn BSF, BOP Boyraghat stated in his complaint, “…in the intervening night… Constable Sunil Kumar and Constable Ajeet Singh were patrolling (…). …constable Sunil Kumar observed 10-15 smugglers along-with about 06 cattle heads coming from India side and going towards Bangladesh side. He (Constable Sunil Kumar) also saw shadow of a smuggler nearby as such he physically apprehended him. The remaining smugglers tried to get free the apprehended smugglers by attacking and encircling patrolling party and they managed to get him free. They also tried to snatch weapon of Constable Sunil Kumar, however, they could not do so. The patrolling party challenged the smugglers to stop but the smugglers party threatened and encircled the patrolling party. During the course of fighting Const. Sunil Kumar sustained minor injuries in right arms and left leg. The butt of his rifle (…) suffered damage by dah (scythe) of smuggler. Sensing imminent danger to own life and in self defence of life, constable Sunil Kumar fired 02 rounds from his rifle (…). Resultantly (…) Atiur Rehman (…) sustained bullet injury in forehead and back and died on the spot. There is no report of casualty or injury to other smugglers or any BSF person. On firing, the remaining smugglers alongwith cattle heads ran away towards India village Dihipara (…).”

It is to be noted that, while two BSF personnel intervened the alleged smugglers, it is only Constable Sunil Kumar, who was apprehended, attacked, encircled, injured and fired bullet as reflected in the BSF complaint. It appears quite astonishing that the other member was totally spared from the alleged attack by those alleged smugglers. Neither there is any mention of the other constable’s reaction on the matter. As mentioned earlier, it is evident from the dead body of Mr. Atiur, he was brutally tortured and was shot while kept him lying on the soil. This is completely contradictory to the scenario represented by the BSF version. Moreover, even it appears quite incoherent that while one person (allegedly smuggler and one amongst the attackers) was taken into close captive so as to shot him repeatedly to death, rest of the smugglers vanished from the scene along with the cattle. While one BSF personnel made it a point to nail one person to death, other person appeared to remain completely reclusive! More so, none of them tried to stop other alleged smugglers and allowed them to escape with cattle!

The Inspector General (South Bengal) of BSF Mr. CV Muralidharan defended, as reported in a prominent Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika on 23 Mar 2010, “Everyone knows that curfew is promulgated in the Indo-Bangladesh border adjacent areas after evening. Loitering around those places after evening is completely prohibited for general people. Generally, smugglers move around those places after evening. How would the BSF guards know who is good person and who is smuggler?” The local Panchayat Pradhan of Baroshumul Gram Panchayat Mr. Fatik Sheikh argues quite rationally, “Even if BSF had any doubt, why did they kill him instead of taking him into their custody?” On the same report Constable Sunil Kumar was quoted as, “… I asked Mr. Atiur and his companion to halt. But, as they didn’t pay heed to my call and started running away, I had to fire.” Even this statement is quite contradictory to the firing details mentioned above – the victim was shot from point blank range and from front side.

A police case has been registered in Raghunath Ganj against BSF personnel upon Mr. Mesher Ali’s (father of the deceased) complaint vide case no. 148/10 dated 22 March 2010 under sections 302/34 of Indian Penal Code. While our activist contacted Mr. Subir Pal, Sub-Inspector of Ragunath ganj PS, he said, “BSF personnel had unlawfully killed Mr. Atiur and subsequently inquest was carried out by Mr. Abul Kashem, a Deputy Magistrate” On the other hand, BSF has lodged a complaint (extract of which is mentioned above) to the same police station and another case has been started on the same incident vide PS case no. 147/10 dated 22 March 2010 under sections 147/148/149/186/353/427/307 of Indian Penal Code.

It needs to be mentioned that while BSF has repeatedly tried to prove that the victim was a smuggler, it is evident from his certificates and examination cards that he has been trying sincerely to establish himself as a government employee and was very close to obtain a job. The Gram Panchayat Pradhan of Sekhalipur Gram Panchayat Mr. Dil Mohammad affirmed, “Atiur was a very honest guy.” A member of Panchayat committee Mr. Torab Ali appended, “He was a good person and was never connected to any smuggling activity.” Such an honest person’s killing added to the growing misery and terrifying atmosphere created by BSF atrocities around Indo-Bangladesh border areas.

However, it is confirmed from the IO of the case that no substantial development has been taken place till date. Poor villager’s often restrain from becoming an witness due to probable BSF personnel’s subsequent terror. Due to consistent impunity enjoyed by perpetrator BSF personnel, villagers have started to believe that, in spite of being citizen of India, they are denied justice.

Report by:
Kirity Roy
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
National Convenor
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI)

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