At least three villagers, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed and at least 16 others injured after Border Gourd Bangladesh personnel opened fire on agitating villagers at village Baharampur under bordering upazila of Haripur in Thakurgaon on Tuesday.
The villagers alleged the BGB personnel opened fire on them as they tried to stop them from taking away cows they had reared for months on suspicion that they were smuggled from India.
The deceased are Nabab Uddin, 25, son of Nazrul Islam, and Sadeq Ali, 40, son of Zahir Uddin of village Ruhia and Zainul, 12, son of Nur Islam, of village Baharampur under the upazila, local people said.
Haripur upazila nirbahi officer MJ Arif Beg confirmed the news of the deaths.
Besides, at least 16 villagers who were injured with bullets and now undergoing treatment include Mithu, 18, Afsarul, 28, Sadekul, 28, Taimur, 25, Rasel, 16, Joinul, 40, Muntahara, 45, Babu, 25, Naoshad, 25, Abdul Hannan, 60, Joibul, 35, Nurnahar, 60, and Sadequl Islam, 32.
Villagers said Mahbub Ali, a resident of village Bahrampur, bought a cow six months ago and on Tuesday he was taking it to the local Jadurani cattle market to sell it.
On his way, a group of seven to eight BGB personnel of Betna camp attempted to seize the cow suspecting it to be a smuggled one, they said, adding that the BGB personnel also brought three other cows in a bid to take them away and took them on a BGB pick-up van about 11:00am.
Hundreds of villagers of surrounding areas and those who had been going to the cattle market, meanwhile, gathered at the place and held protests against the BGB personnel, they said.
The villagers then were locked in a scuffle with the BGB personnel and recovered the cattle from BGB’s possession. They held demonstrations protesting at harassment by the BGB personnel in the name of seizing smuggled cows.
On information, other BGB patrol teams arrived at the scene to rescue the confined ones. The villagers became more agitated and threw brick bats on them when the BGB personnel opened fire in the air to disperse the mob.
At one stage, when the mob became more violent, the BGB personnel opened fire on the mob, leaving two dead on the spot and several others injured with bullets, they said.
One of the injured died on way to Haripur Upazila Health Complex, officials at Haripur Police Station said.
Abdus Samad, resident medical officer at Haripur Health Complex, said bullets were removed from 16 injured persons at the hospital and they were later shifted to Abdur Rahim Medical College Hospital in Dinajpur.
The villagers alleged that they were annoyed with the BGB personnel as they collect toll ranging from Tk 200 to Tk 2,000 from each cow they would ‘touch’ almost every market day of Jadurani cattle market on Tuesday and Saturday every week. Around 5,000 cows arrive in the market every market day.
The Tuesday’s agitation of the villagers was an outburst of the local people who are harassed by the BGB personnel, said a local government elected representative of the area who preferred anonymity.
An uneasy calm prevails in the area and the villagers were seen terrified fearing further action on the villagers.
Haripur police offier-in-charge Amiruzzman in the evening said the situation was under control and that additional police forces were deployed in the area to avert any further untoward incident.
District top administration and police officials visited the area and assured the villagers of taking proper legal steps after impartial investigation.
Thakurgaon deputy commissioner KM Kamruzzman Selim told New Age that he had formed a three-member committee to probe the incident and asked it to submit its report within seven days.
Commander of 50 BGB Battalion in Thakurgaon Lieutenant Colonel Tuhin M Masud claimed that cattle smugglers along with the villagers attacked a patrol team of BGB when they were returning to camp after seizing four cows.
At one stage, they tried to snatch away weapons of BGB members that prompted them to fire blanks, he said.
The commander said as firing blank shots failed to disperse the mob, the BGB personnel had to open fire on the mob.
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