North 24-Parganas : BSF jawans accused of rape on border
Police on Friday night arrested two Border Security Force personnel attached to its 68 battalion for allegedly raping an Indian woman in front of her five-year-old daughter on a paddy field in a North 24-Parganas village in the early hours of Thursday.
The intelligence wing of the BSF came to know about the incident within two hours of the alleged crime at Ranaghat area of Badga and arrested ASI P. Chero and constable Altab Hossain. The duo were handed over to police after the woman lodged a complaint on Friday.
BSF authorities claimed that Hossain had raped the woman while the ASI provided him strategic support. The police, however, medically examined both Chero and Hossain and charged both with raping the woman.
The ACJM court in Bongaon remanded the two accused in seven days of police custody. Bagda police have begun a probe into the crime. BSF authorities have suspended the two personnel and also began a departmental inquiry against them, Amerish Arya, DIG (G) of BSF’s South Bengal Frontier said.
After personnel of the BSF’s intelligence wing learnt about the incident on Thursday, they traced the woman to a house close to the India-Bangladesh border where she had taken shelter. The intelligence personnel convinced the woman to lodge a police complaint against the accused.
Superintendent of police, Bongaon police district, Tarun Halder, said: “Prima facie, evidences of sexual assault has been found on the woman who underwent a medical examination. She recorded her statement before a magistrate in Bongaon court on Saturday.”
The woman, who hails from Badirhat but was married in Bangladesh six years ago, said she was intercepted by the two accused personnel on a paddy field while she was trying to sneak into Bangladesh along with her husband and two children early on Thursday.
“As the woman tried to escape the BSF team, she and her daughter got separated from her husband. She was nabbed and later raped by the jawans,” the SP said.
Acknowledging the incident, Arya told The Telegraph: ”It is sad that our personnel took advantage of the lone woman and sexually assaulted her,” Arya, however, claimed it was an “isolated” incident.
“As soon as our intelligence wing came to know about the incident, it immediately swung into action and located the woman. She was in no mood to lodge a complaint against our men. But we offered her support and convinced her to lodge a complaint. We never make any compromise in such cases,” added the DIG.
However, the alleged rape has sparked off a political row with the Trinamul Congress on Saturday renewing its attack on the Narendra Modi government over alleged atrocities by the BSF along the India-Bangladesh border.Trinamul MLA Biswajit Das, who visited the place of the alleged rape, said: “The incident unleashed panic among villagers. If BSF personnel are allowed access till areas 50km from the border, more such crimes will happen. It is horrible and shocking to believe that a force assigned to protect the border and people is raping women.”
"The chief minister will be informed about the incident and a protest rally be held soon to condemn the incident,” Das told the media.BSF officials, responding to the MLA, dubbed it to be a seeping statement.
They said that this was an isolated incident and immediate steps had been taken to bring the perpetrators to book.However, the incident has further dented the BSF’s image.
There have been several cases of BSF’s conflict with people along the India-Bangladesh border, particularly in north Bengal. Recently, a person died after BSF personnel opened fire on villagers in Cooch Behar suspecting they were cattle smugglers.
Local people alleged that Ranaghat and adjacent areas like Bagda had become the gateway for touts, who with help of unscrupulous BSF personnel helped people on both sides of the international border travel in and out.
“The border is porous here... there are breaches in fencing. Touts with tacit support of patrolling BSF personnel regularly cross the border to sneak into Bangladesh making the zone a vulnerable location for subversive activities and cross-border crime,” a resident said.