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Raid ruckus rocks district

Malda, Jan. 11: The district administration is upset with the Border Security Force (BSF) for entering a village yesterday, forcibly taking away over 200 cattle and then opening fire when the people tried to resist. Ten people were injured in the incident.

“The BSF did not inform us about their raid to recover cattle that was to have been smuggled into Bangladesh. If we had not intervened, the situation could have gone out of control as the villagers had snatched two rifles from the jawans, which we later recovered,” said Malda police superintendent Sashikant Pujari.

Deputy inspector-general of police, Malda range, Gaurav Dutt, said the BSF’s jurisdiction was spread over a five-km radius and yesterday’s incident took place 20 km from the border, at Bakharpur village in the Kaliachak police station area.

“The villagers are living in terror as the BSF has been unilaterally conducting raids. I have spoken to the district magistrate as well as the police superintendent and we will request Writers’ Buildings to take up the matter with Delhi,” Dutt said.

District magistrate Ashok Bala said he would hold talks with the BSF to thrash out these issues. “We were lucky that the zilla parishad sabhadhipati was nearby and he defused the situation. However, it is not always that the BSF is at fault, the villagers too have to accept their share of blame, but we have to sort out the issues,” he said.

Bala said issues like the opening and closing of the gates along the fencing and the grazing of cattle in the border area had to be sorted out.

The district magistrate said that last January too, there was a similar incident in the Kaliachak area when the BSF forcibly took away 114 heads of cattle and four villagers were injured.

“There is now a demand that the BSF should seize cattle that are actually getting smuggled and not take away cows and buffaloes from the villages. After last year’s incident, there was a meeting between the BSF and the district administration and so there is no saying that such incidents will not recur,” Bala said.

“I was afraid when I went to the scene of yesterday’s violence that something dreadful is going to take place. However, the villagers listened to me. I asked the BSF’s commandant of the 53 Battalion, U.K. Nayar, why he was raiding a village which was so far away from the border,” sabhadhipati Goutam Chakraborty said today. He said he ensured that the BSF returned all the cattle they had rounded up.

Chakraborty said he had urged the BSF commandant to get in touch with the district administration and the police while conducting raids. Nayar, however, was not available for comment.

Panchayat pradhan of Raghabpur village in Kaliachak Taifura Begum said the case filed after the BSF took away cattle last year is pending in the high court.

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