INDISCRIMINATE killing of Bangladeshis by India’s Border Security Force continues despite Indian assurances that it will take actions to curb border violence. India’s border violence has reached such a pass that many international media and rights agencies have termed the Bangladesh-India border as the deadliest. In July, the home minister said in the parliament that 294 Bangladeshis died in the hands of Indian border guards since 2009. Border violence seems to have escalated recently. In May, a man died from torture of the Indian guards after he trespassed into India through the Satkhira border. The man in his statement before his death, said that the Indian guards had poured petrol into his mouth and rectum and left him on no man’s land. In September, Indian guards beat to death a cattle trader in the Kathaldangi border in Thakurgaon. In the latest incident, Indian guards shot two Bangladeshis in the Babelakona border in Sherpur after they crossed the border by mistake. The foreign minister’s remark that killing in the Bangladesh-India border has significantly come down in recent years, therefore, seems not to hold true.
Hardly are there any internationally accepted border protocols that allow a shoot-to-kill policy that India has employed in the case of Bangladesh. Any citizen illegally crossing the border, as deals and memorandums signed between the two countries say, would be considered to be trespassing and the offenders would be handed over to civilian authorities keeping to the law. India has agreed, at many meetings between the border guards of the two countries, to use non-lethal weapons against the offenders. India, however, continues to use lethal weapons and violence in its treatment of unarmed civilians. In fact, on many occasions, India has tried to justify its policy saying that it only took action against cattle running, intrusion and the cutting down of barbed-wire fence. The Bangladesh border force is focused on ‘confidence building’ among people living in border areas and border guards of the two countries and identifying ‘sensitive areas’ to set up a surveillance system to improve on the situation. They are, perhaps, important steps but they do not attend to the Indian guards’ torture of unarmed citizens. Bangladesh should make it a priority in its meetings with India and demand investigations of the allegation of torture and killing by the Indian guards. Successive governments of Bangladesh appear to have followed a capitualistic policy in dealing with issues with India, which may have created a ground for impunity for India and its border guards to show a high-handedness in border control.
The government must, therefore, abandon its subservient policy towards India and hold bilateral meetings with the sovereign interest of the nation in mind. It must also take up the issue of border killing by the Indian guards with international forums because the inhuman treatment of unarmed Bangladeshis and India’s intrusion into the Bangladesh territory, reported quite a few times, are a clear violation of international laws.
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