| DYFI supporters demonstrate in front of the BSF vehicles. Picture by Abhijit Chakrabarty
Balurghat, March 7: Eight BSF jawans have been suspended on charges of beating up a 19-year-old student, which resulted in his death on Monday night.
The suspended jawans will be taken off duty and forced to go without salary till the inquiry results are out.
A resident of Daudpur village in the Kumarganj police station area, 27 km from here, Masud Rana Sarkar and his family were assaulted on Sunday afternoon by a group of allegedly drunk jawans.
Incidentally, another BSF jawan had shot down a villager, Shyamal Mahato, near Hili, 20 km from Kumarganj, the same day.
The two successive deaths in the hands of the border force have sparked protests in the district with residents of the border villages — irrespective of party affiliations — demanding exemplary punishment of the guilty BSF men.
At a prolonged meeting held in his office today, South Dinajpur district magistrate Sayeed Sarfaraz Ahmed took the trigger-happy BSF men to task. Later, the district magistrate said the discussion had been “fruitful.”
“The commandant of the 72 Battalion had himself apologised for the incident in Kumarganj and announced the suspension of the eight BSF jawans,” said Ahmed.
“The commandant had also ensured an impartial inquiry into the incident and appropriate action against the guilty,” he added.
On a similar note, the second in command of the 57 Battalion, A.K. Arya, has assured an impartial inquiry into the incident in Hili, the district magistrate said.
Among the others present in today’s meeting were sabhadhipati of the zilla parishad Mahiuddin Ahmed, RSP MP Ranen Barman, the subdivisional officer of Balurghat Hritendra Narayan Basu RoyChowdhury and block development officers of the border areas. Anil Thakur, the commanding officer of 72 Battalion of the BSF, and Arya, among others, represented the BSF.
Long before the meeting started, supporters of the DYFI had demonstrated outside the district magistrate’s office. They refused to let the BSF team enter the collectorate. However, a strong contingent of police force later escorted the BSF officials to the district magistrate’s office.
District secretary of the SFI Babar Ali Sarkar said: “The student community will not tolerate the atrocities of the BSF on innocent people any further. The people in the border areas have been suffering from a fear psychosis.”
The student leader warned that they would intensify their agitation if “BSF barbarism continued unchecked”.
According to the district magistrate, from now on, the block development officers and panchayat pradhans will hold meetings with BSF officials twice a month. The subdivisional officer of the respective areas will also be present. Ahmed had cut short his leave and met Masud’s mother and sister, Mazeda Bibi and Fenciala Begum, in the district hospital yesterday.
At first, all the four members of the Sarkar family were admitted there. Masud and his father Latifur Rahman Sarkar were shifted to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) after their condition deteriorated the next day.
A land dispute between two rival groups had led to the BSF landing up at Daudpur. The group losing the fight had reportedly asked the BSF to intervene. But the drunk border force men raided the Sarkar residence though the family had nothing to do with the dispute.