Wife awaits body across India-Bangladesh border
Aleknoor Bibi, a homemaker at Chak Milepur village in Kaliachak is waiting to catch a last glimpse of the mortal remains of her septuagenarian husband.
Kadir Sheikh, her husband and a peasant by occupation, breathed his last at the Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital in Bangladesh on December 14.
But Aleknoor’s troubles started long back. On September 18, 2017, a team of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), raided her house close to the India-Bangladesh border.
They arrested Sheikh and Aleknoor and took them to Bangladesh, alleging that they have seized four unlicensed pistols, 27 rounds of bullets and eight magazines on them.
A case was filed against them at Sibganj police station under Chapai-Nawabganj district of the neighbouring country.
The couple sought help from some relatives who stay there. Aleknoor was granted bail after few days. She was sent back to India but Sheikh was kept in prison as the case was under trial.
On February 23 this year, the case was dismissed by a court of Chapai-Nawabganj and both she and Sheikh were acquitted.
The judgment, however, did not bring them relief.
Sheikh continued to languish behind bars for another 10 months as the formalities to send him back to his homeland could not be carried out.
Mritunjoy Das, a lawyer and secretary of Gour Bangla Human Rights Awareness Centre who had been toiling for months to bring the elderly peasant back home, said Sheikh had gradually fallen ill.
“It seems that the frustration of not being able to return home after being acquitted had made him fall sick. He was initially admitted to Rajshahi Central Jail Hospital and shifted to Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital, where he died on December 14,” said Das.
The lawyer, who is now trying to bring the mortal remains of the peasant at his village, however, is uncertain as to whether he would eventually succeed. The home ministry of Bangladesh issued a no-objection certificate to return the body to Indian authorities on December 27, he added.
But Aleknoor is getting angry. “He was as innocent as I am. For no fault of his, he suffered imprisonment. When released by court, he could not return home alive. Now, is it too much to seek his body for burial in his homeland like he wished?” said Aleknoor.
Mohabul Mian, Sheikh’s younger son and a migrant labourer, sounded helpless. “We feel the government of India should expedite the process as it is already been a fortnight that his body is lying at the morgue in Rajshahi. I do not know how to get back my innocent father’s body,” he said.
Das said he would approach the International Court of Justice if officials of India and Bangladesh do not make arrangements to return the body. “In Bangladesh, some media publications have flagged the issue. It is high time an Indian farmer gets his last respects. Protocol cannot be greater than an innocent citizen’s rights,” the lawyer said.
Malda police launched the “Surakkha” app to help people get police services during emergencies. So far, only Dial 100 facility was available in the district. SP Alok Rajoria said that initially the services of the app — launched by Vishal Garg IGP (NB) — would be available in Englishbazar and Old Malda.
This service was in addition to Dial 100, he said.