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Bengal takes up assault of villager with BSF jawans

The locals plan to walk to the SDO’s office on Monday to demonstrate and hand over a memorandum seeking steps against the accused constables

Our Correspondent Cooch Behar Published 27.03.22, 03:56 AM
Representational image of BSF jawans

Representational image of BSF jawans File Picture

The Cooch Behar district administration on Saturday told BSF officials to restrain their personnel from highhanded acts after jawans allegedly beat up a young farmer near the Bangladesh border on Friday evening.

Sources said the meeting with the BSF came under instructions from the state administration brass, which has received many complaints of BSF “excesses” with chief minister Mamata Banerjee referring to them publicly several times in the past few months.


Titu Mian, resident of Konamukta village, was allegedly beaten up by a patrol from the BSF’s 90th battalion for breaching the force’s recent prohibition — announced over megaphones — on any movement after 6pm in border areas.

The jawans are accused of later thrashing several villagers when they arrived at the BSF’s Narayanganj camp to protest. Titu’s mother Jahira Biwi lodged an FIR against the BSF on Friday night, something police sources said was virtually unheard of.

A source said a preliminary report on the incident had reached Nabanna on Friday night itself, prompting the state administration to straightaway seek a formal report from the district authorities and ask them to take the matter up with the BSF officially.

Following this, Dinhata SDO Himadri Sarkar convened a meeting in his office on Saturday, where officials of all four BSF battalions posted on the Bangladesh border in Dinhata subdivision were called along with local police officers.

“The BSF officials were explicitly told there can be no restrictions on people’s movement after 6pm. They have also been asked to hold fortnightly meetings with residents at all border villages in the presence of the BDO, and assure people there’s no such restriction on movements,” Sarkar told reporters.

He added that the BSF officials said they knew about the incident and were initiating disciplinary action against the half-dozen BSF constables accused of attacking Titu.

Sarkar said the police were probing Jahira’s complaint.

In Konamukta, Titu’s family and neighbours said the BSF had grilled them through the day, causing them to wonder whether this was indirect pressure to withdraw the complaint.

Titu’s brother Iqbal said a group of BSF men had visited their home and woken him at 5am to ask whether he could identify the assaulters. They made a video call to Titu, who is at Dinhata sub-divisional hospital, and asked him the same question.

“We received multiple phone calls from the BSF through the day. They asked various questions. We are wondering whether it’s an attempt to pressure us into withdrawing the complaint,” Iqbal said.

“I still can’t believe that my brother was beaten up just for being on the roads. How can the BSF prevent an Indian from moving freely in his own country? We want justice.”

The villagers said the BSF group that arrived at Konamukta at 5am had stayed back till 11am, visiting households and questioning people about Friday’s assault.

“We are scared. Over the past few weeks, the BSF has suddenly intensified its vigilance,” homemaker Rehana Parvin said.

“They are intercepting anybody at any time, seeking the purpose of their movement. Since Friday’s incident, we are feeling insecure in our own country.”

The villagers plan to walk to the SDO’s office on Monday to demonstrate and hand over a memorandum seeking steps against the accused BSF constables.

Officials said the state government was taking care of Titu’s treatment. “We have asked the BDOs and the police to be alert and act promptly if any complaint about BSF highhandedness reaches them,” a senior official said.

Mamata had earlier too instructed the civil and police administrations to ensure that the BSF did not do anything that affected border residents’ lives and safety.

Mamata has been at the forefront of the battle against the Centre’s decision last year to extend the BSF’s jurisdiction from 15km to 50km inside international borders. She had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the move might leave more people vulnerable to BSF excesses.

A rough estimate by the state suggests that areas covered by 70 police stations in Bengal would then come under the BSF’s jurisdiction.

“Friday’s incident has again proved Didi right,” Rabindranath Ghosh, Trinamul chairman of the Cooch Behar municipality, said.

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