Government must protect civilians in frontiers

Published: 21:38, Jun 18,2020 | Updated: 23:41, Jun 18,2020


INDIA’S Border Security Force has killed one more Bangladeshi civilian in the Naogaon frontiers. The cattle trader, wounded early Wednesday after Indian guards had fired into a group of people, died in an upazila health complex. Barely two days ago on Monday morning, Indian guards killed another Bangladeshi civilian in the Naogaon frontiers. The death of unarmed Bangladeshis at the hands of Indian guards are shocking as they are, but what is gravely worrying is that Indian guards’ killing Bangladeshi civilians has continued apace, apparently without making Bangladesh authorities effectively lodge protests with India. Indian guards are reported to have so far killed at least 17 Bangladeshis in 2020. The border death at the hands of Indian guards totalled 43 in 2019, 3 in 2018, 17 in 2017, 25 in 2016 and 38 in 2015. Official Bangladesh statistics show, as New Age reported in June 2019, 302 Bangladeshis have been killed by Indian guards in January 2009–May 2019 while unofficial estimates that time put the figure of such death at 414 in 2009–2018. While all this happens, Indian authorities have come up, as New Age reported in June 2019, with a ludicrous argument, terming the death of Bangladeshi civilians at the hands of the Border Security Force as ‘unfortunate deaths of individuals.’

But why has the train of killing of Bangladeshi civilians in the frontiers by the Indian guards not stopped? People of Bangladesh have mostly all along protested against such high-handedness of India, generally and after almost every incident. They have, individually and collectively, mounted and tried to mount pressure on Bangladesh authorities and made the required noise for authorities to take up the issue with India boldly enough to stop this trend. Yet, Indians’ killing Bangladeshi civilians in the frontiers has continued when such death is not reported from India’s land border with China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal or Bhutan. Why? Bangladesh authorities should owe the people an explanation for their failure to take an effective step in this regard. Border death may appear to be just numbers to authorities. But ordinary lives matter, on both the sides of the frontiers, to ordinary people. And people of Bangladesh do not, therefore, want any retribution or retaliation. But it is a fairly reasonable expectation of people that the border guards of Bangladesh would protect Bangladeshi civilians in the frontiers. Media reports of 2017 say that the Border Guard Bangladesh was then planning to recruit 15,000 personnel to add to the existing 50,000 that time. What do the Bangladesh guards do when Indian guards keep firing into civilians of Bangladesh? They are there not only to stop illegal cross-border movement and activities but also to protect the civilians with the required efficiency. The Bangladesh authorities concerned should also explain their failure in protecting the civilians.

India’s border guards earlier resolved to undertake joint efforts to end killing in the frontiers, but nothing happened. And there appears to be no reason for Bangladeshis to bank on such resolves until Dhaka takes up the issue with New Delhi with the required stringency and the political will. Bangladesh authorities must understand that their failure to stop Indian guards from killing Bangladeshis in the frontiers lies in their subservient foreign policy towards India. They must shrug off their capitualistic policy.

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