Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday asked Cooch Behar police chief to initiate a probe to book the guilty in connection with the death of a Rajbanshi youth in BSF firing before sending a stern message to the paramilitary force that it was not given the right to shoot innocent people.
“Recently, the BSF killed a Rajbanshi brother by shooting pellets 180 times. I never saw such a post-mortem report. I will ask the Cooch Behar SP to start a proper investigation into this incident.... The guilty should not be spared,” said the chief minister.
“The BSF is not beyond the law of the land. No one has given them the right to fire on the border,” said Mamata during a public benefit distribution programme at Kanchenjungha Stadium in Siliguri on Tuesday afternoon.
The chief minister was referring to the December 24 incident in which Prem Kumar Barman, a 24-year-old migrant worker and a member of the Rajbanshi family, died when BSF jawans reportedly shot pellets at him on the suspicion that he was a cattle smuggler.
“We have the freedom to save the lives of the people, not to kill them. If anyone is involved in any wrongdoing, there is the law of the land and legal action can be taken against him or her. But such atrocities on common people would not be tolerated” Mamata added.
Before Mamata, her nephew and Trinamul national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee also raised the issue from a political meeting at Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar on February 11 and pulled up the BSF for killing ordinary people. Abhishek had also produced the parents of the victim Rajbanshi youth — Sukhmani and Shiben — and demanded a clarification from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and his deputy Nisith Pramanik.
Around 7,000-odd Trinamul workers demonstrated near the house of Pramanik for eight hours on February 19 to protest the death and seek answers from him.
Sources in Trinamul said the recent demonstration near the house of Pramanik and Mamata’s direction to police to start a probe are significant as the ruling Trinamul is trying to put the BJP under pressure on the issue of the murder of a youth from the Rajbanshi community, which is perceived as an important vote bank in north Bengal.
A police officer in Cooch Behar said senior cops have been engaged to expedite the investigation after Mamata instructed the police chief Sumit Kumar.
“There is already a murder complaint from the family member of the victim at Dinhata police station. Senior officers would monitor the investigation process,” said a police source.
At the Siliguri programme, Mamata gave instabces of atrocities committed by the BSF on women and referred to an incident in which an inspector of the central force allegedly raped a lady constable in a camp in Nadia’s Krishnaganj.
“I came to know that a BSF lady constable has been raped. I will come up with a few more details about the incident soon” said Mamata from her government programme in Siliguri.
An inspector attached to the BSF’s 54-Battalion and deployed in Nadia’s Krishnaganj has been accused of raping an on-duty lady constable outside a border outpost in Tungi village close to Indo-Bangladesh on Saturday night.
The incident embarrassed the BSF authorities as this was the first such allegation by a lady constable against her superior in the force. The incident came to light on Tuesday morning when the victim, who was under treatment in SSKM hospital, visited Bhowaniporepolice station in Calcutta and lodged a complaint against the inspector.
Police sources said the complaint would be sent to Nadia police as the incident happened in the territory of the district.
“This is the most unfortunate incident…and we have a zero-tolerance policy towards such allegations”, a senior BSF official at the South Bengal Frontier Headquarters in Calcutta said, while refusing to reveal details of the incident including the identity of the accused officer.
A. Arya, BSF’s DIG (South Bengal Frontier), told The Telegraph: “A high power committee has been investigating the case. Strict action will be taken against such offence so that no such incident occurs further”.
Trinamul spokesperson Kunal Ghosh on Tuesday morning tweeted on the incident of rape of the BSF lady constable and his party had started a campaign against BJP as the central paramilitary force is now accused of raping their own colleagues in a camp.
BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya however said that if anyone commits a crime, the law would take its own course.