BORDER death at the hands of India’s Border Security Force has not stopped despite Bangladesh’s repeatedly taking up the issue with the Indian government. Human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra, according to a release of Friday, listed at least 28 unarmed Bangladeshi civilians, 21 with gunshots, being killed by the Indian border force this year till September. Until June in the first half of the year, the figure of death was 16. Border death remains a concern for Bangladesh and the frequency of death, as evident in the statistics, only adds to the concern. At least 46 were killed in 2015 with 32 being shot, 33 in 2014 with 16 being shot and 26 in 2013 with 12 being shot. In such a situation, the news that Indian border guards, as the Indian Express reported on September 27, have placed orders for the acquisition of non-lethal weapons for border patrol and more than 500 pump-action guns, which have faster cycling time compared with regular guns, the use of which has earned notoriety in spraying pellets to control protesters during the ongoing unrest in Kashmir Valley.
Although there could be no suggestion as to what types of weapon the Indian border guards should use, what remains to be a concern is that death is taking place in the frontiers — and the number is rising — and this should be stopped at any cost. The Indian newspaper, quoting data, reported that BSF personnel had fired 1,465 PAG rounds along the entire Bangladesh-India border and ‘only 96 bullets from lethal weapons’. This shows that India is still using lethal weapons although it agreed, at the home-minister level talks in February 2012, not to use regular, standard weapons for border control. While bullets fired from lethal weapons might have caused the death, the use of non-lethal weapons, especially the pump-action pellet guns, could potentially be lethal. For the Indian government to assert that non-lethal pellet guns are in use in Kashmir, according to an Indian online news outlet, Scroll.in, is ‘patently false.’ The only way to make pump-action guns ‘non-lethal’ is to shoot at a range of 50 metres and more and even then it can cause irreversible harm. Pump-action guns are also reported to have the ability to fire either lethal or non-lethal rounds. Such guns being loaded with normal shot shells can be used as lethal weapons. In the situation, the news that about 1,500 more pump-action guns would be given to the BSF for border patrol, as the Indian Express reported, in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura should come as no relief.
Bangladesh, shrugging its capitualistic policy, which is largely blamed for death in the frontiers, under the circumstances, must not only take up the issue, effectively, with India, but also sit with Delhi on the use of non-lethal weapons and how they are used if Dhaka means to resolve the problem.
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