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Border firing kills farmer

Raiganj, Feb. 11: A farmer was killed and a 13-year-old boy suffered bullet injuries when jawans of the Border Guard Bangladesh allegedly fired at them near Makarhat along the India-Bangladesh border this morning.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informing him about the incident and urging him to take up the issue with the neighbouring country.

Akhtar Ali, a local farmer and an eyewitness, said he and 25 others had land along the international border and every morning the Border Security Force opened the border gates twice to allow them to water their crops and return.

Beyond the barbed wire gates are some plots of Indian farmers and the zero point is ahead.

“Every day the border gates are opened at 8am and we have to return by 4pm. Today, around 10 of us went through the gates at 9am. We were working in our fields close to the zero point. Suddenly, three BGB jawans reached the spot. They caught hold of Mohammad Hafizul, who was scattering fertiliser over his mustard field, and tried to drag him to the other side of the border, into Bangladesh territory. The jawans told him to scatter fertiliser on the fields on the Bangladeshi side,” he said.

Hafizul’s son, who was also working in the fields nearby, came to rescue his father.

“The farmer’s son Abdul Farid tried to stop the jawans from dragging away his father and one of the BGB men shot the boy in the head,” Ali said.

The 31-year-old died on the spot.

The farmers alleged that the BGB jawans then fired at the other farmers and a stray bullet hit Sur Alam, 13, in the hip.

Alam had also gone to the fields with the local farmers.

“We raised the alarm that alerted the BSF jawans. When our BSF jawans started arriving at the spot, the BGB men ran away,” Ali said.

The border gates on the Indian side were opened and the farmers were allowed to return to the village.

Makarhat near Hemtabad is 40km from here.

“All of us are feeling scared to go to the fields across the fence near the zero point. We want the administration to ensure our safety,” said Ali.

The subdivisional officer of Raiganj, Nandini Saraswati, said: “They (the BGB) have entered the Indian territory and fired on our people. One person was killed on the spot and a 13-year-old boy was seriously injured. He has been admitted to the district hospital here. I have urged the district magistrate and the BSF to hold a flag meeting with the BGB as soon as possible.”

Islampur Trinamul MLA and minister for mass education extension and library services, Choudhury Abdul Karim visited the area today.

Mamata has also requested the Prime Minister to take all possible steps to avert such incidents in the future, said officials in Calcutta.