Cooch Behar: Replace BSF, says Trinamul leaders
Trinamul leaders of Cooch Behar have demanded the replacement of the Border Security Force with the Indian Army or other central security forces on the India-Bangladesh border and accused the BJP of using BSF to torment Trinamul supporters dwelling near the border.
The demand came a day after a youth from a village located under the Dinhata sub-division of the district was gunned down by BSF.
While the security agency claimed that he was involved in smuggling, family members claimed that he was a migrant worker and had recently returned home.
North Bengal development minister Udayan Guha mentioned that back in 1965, BSF was formed to handle security on the India-Pakistan border and thus, the force was posted here because it was East Pakistan then on the other side of the border.
“But now that we have Bangladesh. Why is the BSF still here if it is not posted on Nepal and Bhutan borders? The Centre can deploy other central forces and even the army here if it feels, and replace the BSF,” said Guha, the Trinamul MLA of Dinhata.
In north Bengal, Cooch Behar is one of the six districts which shares borders with Bangladesh.
On Sunday, Guha, along with a team of party leaders, reached Bharbandha village. On Saturday, Prem Kumar Barman, a 24-year-old youth of the hamlet, died after BSF fired at him.
The minister mentioned that in the last year, five Indians, including this youth, have been gunned down in Sitai Assembly constituency of the district.
“Similar incidents have occurred in other areas of Cooch Behar and they were branded as smugglers. All these people were our supporters. BJP is doing it in a planned manner. The BSF personnel who are sent to these places are from BJP-ruled states. It seems they are being briefed to torment Trinamul workers and supporters on the borders,” asserted the MLA.
Over the past few years, many leaders of Mamata Banerjee’s party, including the chief minister herself, have intensified their verbal attacks on the BSF.
Last year, Mamata was critical of the Centre’s decision to increase the jurisdiction of BSF from 15 kilometres to 50 kilometres into the Indian territory from the zero point and had even passed a resolution against it in the Assembly.
The TMC has accused the force of its highhandedness and has planned to speak on the issue while campaigning for the upcoming rural polls to drum up support in bordering villages across Bengal.
Even in administrative meetings, Mamata has specifically instructed police officials to monitor the activities of BSF and confirm that the security force does not take any steps without informing the local police.
The BJP, on the other hand, had countered the decision on jurisdiction with all its might.
A number of BJP leaders have spoken in support of the BSF and a few days back, Union home minister Amit Shah stated in Parliament that the BSF needs power and authority to prevent narcotics smuggling and other illegal activities on the border.
Speaking at the Lok Sabha, he criticised states like Bengal and Punjab for voicing protests over BSF’s jurisdiction.
Like Bengal, the Punjab government had also passed a resolution against the decision to increase BSF’s area of operation.
Shah said that those who were raising voices were trying to help “anti-national elements” involved in cross-border narcotic smuggling.