BSF jawans patrol the Bangladesh border in Hili, 25km from the Kumarganj area where Masud’s family lives. Picture by Mithun Roy
New Delhi, Jan. 12: The National Human Rights Commission has told the Union home ministry to pay Rs 5 lakh to the family of a South Dinajpur boy who died after BSF soldiers tortured him in 2007.
The rights panel has also asked the ministry to give Rs 50,000 each to three others in Masud Rana Sarkar’s family who were assaulted.
The Asian Centre for Human Rights filed the complaint on behalf of the family on March 20, 2007, a fortnight after 19-year-old Masud was thrashed in his north Bengal house.
On March 4 that year, two groups from the villages of Palipara and Nadipara in the Kumarganj area, 27km from Balurghat town, clashed over sharing of irrigation water. The losing side sought the intervention of BSF personnel in the area. Instead of peacefully resolving the dispute, around 20 BSF personnel went to the village of Baudpur, whose residents had nothing to do with the water dispute, and raided the house of Masud Sarkar and tortured him and his family — father Latifur, mother Mazeda Bibi and sister Fenciara Begum. The BSF personnel were allegedly drunk and were armed with guns and lathis.
All four were admitted to the Balurghat district hospital, from where the next day, Masud and Latifur were taken to North Bengal Medical College Hospital in Siliguri. Masud, a first-year student in Balurghat College, died on the night of March 5.
The general security force court which conducted an internal inquiry in the BSF exonerated all five accused jawans after trying them for offences under the BSF Act for committing a civil offence, for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for voluntarily causing hurt — the last two charges under the IPC.
The director-general of the BSF requested the NHRC to close the case without providing reasons on how the accused were exonerated.
But what worked in the family’s favour was an inquiry report submitted by the district magistrate of South Dinajpur which established that a group of BSF personnel had caused grievous injury to the victims and the deceased had died because of the injuries.
Based on the inquiry, the NHRC recommended to the home ministry to pay the compensation and submit proof of payment and a compliance report in six weeks.
“This is a case where the defence establishment tried to bury the truth. The Asian Centre for Human Rights appreciates the NHRC’s judgment that refused to go by the report of the BSF authorities and accepted the report of the magisterial inquiry,” said Suhas Chakma, the director of the human rights organisation.
“The Asian Centre for Human Rights will request the NHRC to recommend to the ministry of home affairs to take appropriate legal action against the accused based on the findings of the district magistrate of South Dinajpur,” Chakma added.
The BSF has reported the maximum number of human rights violations as compared to other paramilitary forces. The force, which guards country’s porous borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, received 63 complaints of rights violations in 2008, 16 more than in 2007, according to information under the Right to Information Act.