INDIA has come up with a ludicrous argument having termed the deaths of Bangladeshi civilians in the frontiers at the hands of its border guards as ‘unfortunate deaths of individuals’ while they are all ‘killings’, taking place because of high-handedness of New Delhi, taking the total figure, as official Bangladesh statistics show, to 302 in January 2009–May 2019, as New Age reported on Sunday. Rights group Odhikar, however, puts the figure at 414 in 2009–2018, with 617 reported to have been wounded and 484 abducted in the period. The director general of India’s Border Security Force came up with the phrase, which reeks of India’s efforts not to even acknowledge the frontier deaths as a problem, when the director general of the Border Guard Bangladesh expressed concern, at the 48th BGB-BSF director general-level conference that ended in Dhaka on Saturday, about continued border death, which has of late intensified. The Indian border guards killed eight Bangladeshi civilians in the first five months of 2019 while they killed three in 2018. The number of death of Bangladeshi civilians at the hands of Indian guards was 17 in 2017, 25 in 2016 and 38 in 2015.
While the number was gradually declining, it has suddenly increased in the first five months of 2019, belying earlier promises of the Indian border force of using non-lethal weapons in the frontiers and working to end such death. While the Indian border guards terming their killing Bangladeshis in the borders as ‘unfortunate death’ appears to be sidestepping any efforts for justice for the killings and, therefore, unacceptable, many of the incidents, which prominently feature the killing of Felani Khatun, who was shot dead by the Indian guards and was kept hanging from the barbed-wire fence in the Kurigram border on January 7, 2011, and of Saheb Uddin, a school student who was shot at point-blank range by the Indian guards in the Chuadanga border on May 14, 2016 when the BSF director general was in Bangladesh for a six-day conference, very well suggest that they were murders, for which the offenders in the Indian force have not yet been tried. Officials of the border forces of the two neighbours at the 42nd such meeting in May 2016 decided to jointly investigate each of the border killings, but no such killing has so far been jointly investigated because of the objection that the Indian side has raised.
The Indian border guards this time too have resolved to undertake joint efforts to end killing in the frontiers by stepping up coordinated patrols in areas having known for the smuggling of cattle and drug substances. But there appears to be no reason for Bangladeshis to bank on such resolves of the Indian border guards unless and until Bangladesh takes up the issue with New Delhi with the required stringency and the citizens mount pressure on the government to do so and the citizens of India mount pressure on their government to turn its promises into reality. A definition of border killings as absurd as the one that Indian force has come up appears to be as deplorable as its efforts, or a lack of them, to end border deaths are.
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