Probe “abuses of BSF on Bangladesh border”: Rights group

Government orders to limit use of live ammunition have not prevented new killings, it says

The Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called for an investigation into alleged abuses by the Border Security Force (BSF) along the Bangladesh border. “The Indian government orders to border forces to exercise restraint and limit the use of live ammunition have not prevented new killings, torture and other serious abuses,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director, said in a press statement.

Referring to the reports filed by NGOs from both countries, the HRW said the “government’s failure to hold security personnel accountable has led to further abuses and the harassment of very poor and vulnerable populations”.

The statement talks about a report published by the HRW named “Trigger Happy” about 10 years ago and claimed that after the publication of the report the Indian government announced “that it would order the BSF to use restraint and rubber bullets, instead of more lethal ammunition, against irregular border-crossers”.

The HRW said it knows no cases where Indian authorities have held the BSF soldiers accountable including the much-publicised killing of Felani Khatun, a 15-year-old girl shot dead in January.

The statement quotes a Bangladeshi group Odhikar that has alleged that the border forces have killed at least 334 Bangladeshi since 2011.

The Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), an Indian organisation that has investigated at least 105 alleged killings by the BSF in the border areas in West Bengal since 2011, said: “We find that even after the report Trigger Happy the situation has not improved on the ground. Instead it has deteriorated,” Kirity Roy, secretary, said.

Pankaj Kumar Singh, Additional DG, East BSF, told journalist on January 29 that the BSF adopts a non-lethal approach when it comes to those involved along the border. He said the BSF are provided with non-lethal weapons “which they use when there is a threat to their lives or there are chances of their weapons being snatched”.

“Most of these incidents where losses of lives have been reported took place between 12 midnight and 5 a.m.,” he said.

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