No justice for Thakurgaon BGB shooting in sight

Muktadir Rashid | Published: 00:17, Feb 12,2020 | Updated: 00:25, Feb 12,2020


No justice is yet in sight for the killing of three villagers by Border Guard Bangladesh in Thakurgaon on February 12, 2019.

The National Human Rights Commission, the home ministry, the local administration and the BGB formed committees to investigate the shooting on villagers by border guards following altercation over seizure of cattle from farmers at Baharampur village of Haripur upazila.

School teacher Nabab Uddin, 25, farmer Sadeq Ali, 40, and student Zainul, 12, were killed and 17 were injured in the shooting.

The committees formed by the home ministry and the local administration are yet to submit any report.

The commission is yet to disclose the report submitted by its committee on April 10, 2019. Committee chief former full-time member Nazrul Islam said that they submitted the report to the then commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque stating that ‘the firing was not justified’.

The commission’s full-time member Kamal Uddin Ahmed said that they needed to check where the report was.

A deputy director of the commission said that the commission could not make the report public as the matter was pending with the High Court.

The probe report, New Age obtained a copy of which, observed that it could not be proved that the cattle seized were smuggled ones.

It stated that the probe could prove none of the border guards’ claim that the villagers resisted them with sharp weapons and firearms and the border guards used blank shots. It also observed that no situation was created that could trigger firing.

The commission report requested the home ministry to take necessary action against the perpetrators and compensate and bring the victim families into social safety net.

Border guard director general Major General Shafeenul Islam at a press conference in January 2020 claimed that they had taken action following the incident.

The then BGB-50 battalion commander in Thakurgaon Lieutenant Colonel Tuhin Mohammad Masud was initially transferred while the border guard officials said that he got promotion to the rank of colonel and given higher position in the paramilitary force.

The border guards initially claimed that the deceased were ‘smugglers’ and were killed during attack on border guards.

On February 14, 2019, BGB nayeb subedar Ziaur Rahman filed two cases with Haripur police station against the deceased, injured, local opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders and 250 other villagers.

The complaints stated that smugglers attacked a border guard patrol team with firearms and sharp weapons, opened fire at them and took away cattle worth of Tk 1 lakh. Border guards were injured and opened fire to protect public property.

The cases are under investigation, said Haripur police station sub-inspector Belal Hossain, also the investigation officer.

Victim families filed three complaints with judicial magistrate Farhana Khan’s court naming Lieutenant Colonel Tuhin Mohammad Masud, Nayeb Subedar Ziaur Rahman, who filed the cases with the police, Nayek Md Sabullah, Nayek Md Delwar Hossain, Sepoy Md Habibur Rahman, Sepoy Md Mursalin and Sepoy Md Bayrul Islam.

On March 12, 2019, magistrate Farhana Khan set April 11, 2019 for order on acceptability of the complaints. She was transferred and her successor Arifur Rahman on April 11, 2019 rejected the complaints as two cases had already been filed by border guards over the same incident.

The victim families said that they still found all doors for justice barred for them.

‘I have lost my son and have been going from door to door for a year but none has listened to us. Is there no way to get justice for an ordinary person,’ said deceased Nabab’s father Nazrul Islam.

SSC examinee Abul Kashem lost his right eye in the shooting and had to stay away from school for a year.

‘The incident has shattered my life, my dream and the dream of my father about me. I am yet to get justice,’ Kashem said, adding that his family spent Tk 5.75 lakh for his treatment.

Supreme Court lawyer Tanoy Kumar Saha moved a writ petition for the victim families in April 2019. The High Court bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir heard the petition on 10 dates and set August 22, 2019 for the order, but its jurisdiction was changed suddenly, Tanoy said.

The bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal heard the petition and on November 3, 2019 dropped it from the list of cases for hearing.

Finally, the bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman heard it and on November 17, 2019 passed ‘no order’ keeping the matter pending.

‘I expected that at least an order from the court after the hearing,’ Tanoy said.

‘We are not against the whole BGB rather we want the perpetrators to be brought to book,’ he added.

Tanoy said that on July 29, 2019 he sent a demand of justice notice to the commission on behalf of 21 victims demanding the commission report to be made public, but found no response.

Thakurgaon additional deputy commissioner Nur Kutubul Alam, also member of the home ministry committee, said that none of the committees formed by the home ministry and the district administration completed the inquiry yet.

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