| The district magistrate with the Sarkar family at the Balurghat hospital. Picture by Abhijit Chakrabarty
Balurghat, March 6: A 19-year-old boy, who was beaten up by BSF jawans on Sunday, died at North Bengal Medical College & Hospital (NBMCH) in Siliguri last night.
Unaware of his death, the other members of Masud Rana Sarkar’s family are battling for life at the district hospital and at NBMCH. They, too, are victims of “BSF atrocities”.
A resident of Kumarganj — 27 km from here — Masud’s death has further embittered relations between the border force and the villagers, who set up a road blockade in the area today.
Masud was assaulted on the same day that another jawan shot down a goatherd in Srirampur village near Hili, around 20 km from Kumarganj.
A group of 15-20 jawans, allegedly drunk after Holi celebrations, had raided the house of Latifur Rahman Sarkar at Daudpur in the Kumarganj police station area at 1 pm.
Armed with guns and lathis, the BSF men beat up Latifur and his son Masud, who collapsed at the spot. They did not even spare Latifur’s wife Mazeda Bibi and daughter Fenciara Begum.
The whole family had to be rushed to Balurghat district hospital. While the mother-daughter duo is still in Balurghat, Masud, a first-year student of Balurghat College, was shifted to Siliguri yesterday along with his father after their condition deteriorated.
Mazeda Bibi said two groups from neighbouring villages of Palipara and Nadipara had clashed over a dispute on the share of irrigation water. The group losing the fight had reportedly asked the BSF to intervene. Some drunk BSF jawans arrived soon after. They then proceeded to raid Latifur’s house, though the Sarkars had nothing to do with the dispute.
“They entered the house from the rear, abusing us in filthy language. They beat us up mercilessly,” cried Mazeda Bibi from the hospital this afternoon, unaware that her son had already expired.
Monohar Ali Mondal, the pradhan of Samjia gram panchayat — of which Daudpur is a part — said the BSF had also threatened him. “They pushed me to the ground and said, if needed, they would shoot me too.”
As news of Masud’s death trickled into the village around 8 am, residents of Daudpur blocked the road to Balurghat for almost 12 hours.
Leaders of the SFI and the Progressive Students’ Union— the student wings of the CPM and the RSP respectively — met district magistrate Sayeed Sarfaraz Ahmed today and demanded immediate punishment of the BSF jawans.
District secretary of the CPM Manabesh Chowdhury and his counterpart in the RSP Prashanta Mazumder have also expressed serious concern over the “continued atrocities” of the BSF.
Jails and social welfare minister and MLA from Balurghat Biswanath Chowdhury said he would submit a report to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and seek his intervention.
An angry district magistrate who met the injured at Balurghat hospital said: “I will demand an explanation from the BSF tomorrow. They can’t be allowed to continue with their atrocities.”
The BSF was unavailable for comment.