Bangladesh protests alleged killing of youth by BSF

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 16, 2011 14:20 hrs

Dhaka, Jan 16 (IANS) A Bangladeshi youth Sunday succumbed to injuries allegedly caused during torture by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF), prompting the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) to strongly protest the act.

Shahjahan Ali, 25, son of late Younus Ali from Shingnagar village of Shibganj upazila (sub-district) in Chapainawabganj, died at a hospital early Sunday, a day after being caught while crossing the border with relatives.

The BSF men left Ali at Shingnagar near Masudpur frontier from where he was rescued by the locals and admitted to hospital, BDR's Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Abu Bakar Abu, in charge of 39 Rifles Battalion, Chapainawabganj, was quoted as saying by the Daily Star.

The official said he sent a letter to BSF officials protesting the torture and death of Ali. The BDR also asked them for holding a flag meeting in this regard.

According to the newspaper, 67 Bangladeshi nationals were injured last year along the Bangladesh borders with India's West Bengal.

Another 64 Bangladeshis were abducted by BSF during the period. Thirty-three of them are still in different Indian jails, the report said, citing information gathered from BDR, police and media.

Thirty-three people were killed while trying to cross the border during 2010, the Daily Star said. The toll were 36 in 2009, 47 in 2008, 33 in 2007, 62 in 2006 and 104 in 2005, it added.

This has been a contentious issue between the two South Asian neighbours. BSF says its men fire 'in self-defence' as those crossing border in wee hours are armed and part of organized smuggling of cattle, goods, arms and drugs.

A number of meetings at the levels of ministers, secretaries and border guard officials have not resolved the issue.

Odhikar, a Bangladeshi human rights body, claims about 1,000 people were killed during the last decade.

According to the daily, Ali was caught early Saturday by the BSF personnel of Maldah under West Bengal when he crossed border through the Masudpur frontier in Shibganj.

Ali's body bore several injury marks, his mother Rushnara Khatun claimed.

In his dying statement, Ali alleged that he had been beaten with iron rods and sticks for an hour by the BSF personnel, the paper said.

In its detailed report about Bangladesh's western border with India, the newspaper said the Satkhira border was the most troubled spot last year where 13 Bangladeshis were killed. Twelve of them were cattle traders.

Cattle smuggling is rampant and picks up before the festival season when they are in great demand.