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BSF men seized & freed

Malda, April 4: Bangladeshi villagers today assaulted and detained five Border Security Force personnel who had crossed into that country.

The jawans of the 63rd BSF battalion, stationed at Kestopur in Malda, were released after BSF officials held a flag meeting with Bangladesh Rifles, which claimed to have “rescued” the jawans from the villagers.

According to the BSF, the jawans were chasing cattle smugglers when they crossed into the Bangladesh village of Hussain Bhita.

The BDR condemned the act, calling it a violation of the agreement between the two countries. BDR officials said if they had not intervened in time, the situation could have taken a turn for the worse. The BDR also accused the jawans of shooting at the residents of Hussain Bhita, wounding a villager and fuelling tension.

The BSF did not comment on this charge, but demanded that Bangladesh authorities take action against the villagers who assaulted the jawans.

BSF sources said two jawans at the Kestopur outpost, 15 km from the district headquarters, spotted cattle in no-man’s land early this morning and went out to get them back.

When they did not return even after an hour, three other jawans went to look for them. As they crossed no-man’s land into Hussain Bhita, the three jawans found that villagers were holding their two colleagues.

The mob, armed with staves and sickles, surrounded the three who panicked and opened fire, wounding a villager. The jawans were soon overpowered and severely beaten up.

BDR officials said they rushed to the village and rescued the injured BSF men. The jawans were later taken to the BDR’s Chandnipara camp, where they were held for several hours. They were released around 3.30 pm after a flag meeting.

The five injured BSF personnel have been admitted to the BSF hospital at Narayanpur, where the condition of head constable G.C. Gogoi is stated to be serious.

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