The killing of unarmed Bangladeshis by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) along the border continues, despite repeated reassurances of ‘zero violence’ from New Delhi.
The Indian home minister, Rajnath Singh, reiterated the reassurance at the home ministers’ conference of the the two neighbours in New Delhi this July, but to no avail.
Even on Sunday, a 25-year-old young man baned Baharul Islam was shot dead by the BSF men at the Roumari border in Kurigram.
With this, at least five Bangladeshis have been killed by the BSF personnel only this month.
Former chief of the the border defence force and diplomats contend that sincerity is lacking in India’s assurances to stop the border killings.
However, the director general of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) major general Aziz Ahmed told Prothom Alo over cell phone on Sunday, “The call to halt killing of Bangladeshi nationals will be raised strongly at the conference to be held next month in Delhi between the chiefs of the the two border forces. We have protested every killing of Bangladeshi nationals along the border in the last few days.”
A meeting at the director general level between BGB and BSF is scheduled to be held in the first week of next month, said an official of the foreign ministry.
If a Bangladeshi national is killed by BSF on the border, generally BGB first issues a protest verbally and then in writing.
Then after receiving specific information regarding the killing from BGB, the foreign ministry issues an official letter protesting at the killing and demanding an investigation into the incident.
A diplomat sadi on Sunday night that after the coordinated border management plan (CBMP) was signed; efforts were made to increase trust by means of coordinated patrols, exchange of information and other measures between the two border defence forces.
Efforts were also made to sensitise members of India’s border forces in order to stop the killings, the diplomat said.
Former foreign secretary Mohammed Touhid Hossain on Sunday told Prothom Alo that it was most unfortunate that the Bangladesh-India border was the only border in the world where there was no on-going war and yet unarmed citizens were being shot dead.
It is regrettable that India’s human rights activists are also silent on the issue.
According to the human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), from January to 25 September this year, at least 28 Bangladeshis were killed by the BSF men.
Prothom Alo’s district correspondent reports, on 1 September Muhibur Rahman (38) was killed at the Burirhar border of Lalmonirhat, on 18 September Mohammed Abir (23) at the Telkupi, Chapainawabganj border, on 23 September Dukhu Miah (25) at Kurigram’s Roumari border and Jasim Uddin (27) at the border along Maheshpur, Jhenidah, and on 25 September Baharul Islam at Roumari. They were all killed by the BSF personnel.
According to ASK, the number of Bangladeshis killed by the BSF in 2013 was 26 (12 shot dead), in 2014 it was 33 (16 shot dead), and in 2015 this was 46 (32 shot dead).
At the BGB and BSF director general meeting held in Dhaka on 16 May this year, it was decided to carry out joint investigations regarding the border killings.
When his attention was drawn to the matter on Sunday, the BGB DG said, in the past when Bangladeshi nationals were killed along the border the Indian side would say that the BSF opened fire in self-defence. Since May, personnel of the border forces from both countries are inspecting the site of any killing along the border and so the situation has improved, he added.
Former director general of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) major general (retd) Azizur Rahman told Prothom Alo over cell phone that India’s reassurances about halting border killings lacked sincerity. “That is why such tragic killings continue.