Border killing: Promises are made to be broken
Promises are made to be broken, Indian Border Security Force (BSF) is the perfect example of this proverb. The BSF chief recently made a promise that there would be no killings on the borders, while the same promise was made two months ago. He made the promise in the five-day director general-level talks which has ended yesterday. Shamefully, on the very first day of the conference, BSF shot dead a Bangladeshi along the border in Mymensingh. More disgracefully on 16th December, National Victory Day, the Indian border force killed a Bangladeshi man along the international border in Patgram of Lalmonirhat.
However, at least 48 Bangladeshi citizens have been killed along the Indo-Bangla border this year, according to Rights Body Ain o Salish Kendra. Violence and killing on the border by the BSF continue despite repeated assurances made by the Indian side of bringing down the border casualties to zero. Last year, 43 Bangladeshis were killed by trigger-happy BSF members.
Bangladesh and India share a 4,053km-long border. The border between Bangladesh and India has already earned notoriety for the human cost. It is considered the most "sensitive". The Indian side has repeatedly pledged not to use lethal force along border, but it has failed to deliver on its promise of "zero deaths". Since 2000, more than 1,000 Bangladeshis have been killed in border areas, according to rights defenders who described the Indo-Bangla border as "killing fields". Unfortunately, all of the victims are poor, unarmed villagers, cattle-rearers and fisherfolk.
After every incident of border killing when our government expresses its concerns, the Indian side routinely makes promises of stopping the killings. But surprisingly, the killings persist even after the issue has been discussed in different forums by the two governments. It is disturbing that the Indian side terms these killings as "undesirable deaths" and comes up with the excuse of "self-defence". There are also many reported cases of BSF's torture on innocent Bangladeshis, including children.
Clearly, border killings continue because the BSF personnel are never held accountable for their action or their excessive use of force. Under the circumstances, the Bangladesh government should take a strong stance and make India answer for the killings committed by its border security force. The BSF high command must keep the promises they made during the bilateral meetings. They must bring down the casualty to zero by using non-lethal weapons to deter people trying to cross the border illegally. At the same time, the BGB should also ensure greater vigilance and monitoring on the borders to ensure our people's security. And most importantly, our government must mount pressure on India so that they show political will to resolve the issue.