The spike in killings along the border has left BGB and locals confused in Thakurgaon’s Ranisankail and Haripur upazilas
At least three Bangladeshi nationals have been gunned down and one other detained by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) along different points of the border in Thakurgaon’s Ranisankail and Haripur upazilas within 10 days this month.
The recent spike in border killings by BSF has left Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and the locals confused in absence of a probable cause behind the Indian force’s “trigger-happy behaviour.”
One of the deceased was a teenager and the other two were in their 20s.
Of them, BSF soldiers shot dead Jahangir Alam, 21, near the Dharmagarh border in Ranisankail on January 18; Md Jenarul Haque, 22, near Minapur border in Haripur on January 21; and Sohel Rana Babu, 14, along the Jagdal border in Ranisankail on January 28.
Another person, a day labourer named Shah Alam, was also detained by BSF after he illegally entered India through the Kanativita border on January 24.
Border killings had declined in the Thakurgaon border areas in the past five years following different initiatives of the BGB’s 30th and 50th battalions, government-to-government diplomatic measures, and understanding between the BGB and BSF reached through meetings and discussions.
Several BGB initiatives, including rehabilitation of the smugglers and their successful reintegration into the society, have also garnered much praise from all quarters as they brought down the number of border killings.
However, apart from being surprised, BGB has become warier after the recent deaths of Bangladeshi nationals along the border at the hands BSF soldiers, who have again started going for the lethal option instead of non-lethal ones while dealing with trespassers.
Regarding the matter, BGB’s 50th battalion Director Lt Col Tuhin Md Masud said: “One thing that is stressed more in every flag meeting with BSF is that number of border killings must be brought down. But BSF apparently is not paying much attention to that nowadays.”
Bilateral ties and human rights
Weighing in on the issue, Ranisankail Upazila Press Club President Mobarak Ali said BSF could have easily found other ways to handle the matter of trespassing, instead of gunning down the Bangladeshi nationals.
“But it seems BSF has become more reckless. This [border killing] is very sad and is a violation of international human rights,” he added.
Local journalist Kabirul Islam said: “These border killings will hurt bilateral ties between Bangladesh and India.
“They will also cause damage to the diplomatic measures and initiatives taken by the border guards of both countries to stop border killings.”
BGB sources said the smuggling ties BSF generally cites after each border killing is not “entirely true.”
Teenager Babu was returning from his relative’s house on the other side of the border after attending a family event when he was killed by BSF on January 28, according to his family.
Thakurgaon-based human rights activist Abdul Latif said such killings can be avoided if BSF only shows a little bit of restraint.
“They [BSF] should try to detain alive those who are unarmed and nonviolent,” he added.
Several families of the victims also questioned the role of BSF’s 171st battalion Commander Commandant Rakesh Sinha in the border killings.
Border deaths have been a contentious issue between India and Bangladesh.
Though the BSF said they had adopted the strategy to use non-lethal weapons since 2012, border killings, of mostly Bangladeshi nationals, took place in phases along different border points since then.
The BSF claim they open fire at suspects or trespassers only when they fail to take control of a situation using non-lethal weapons.