Monday, December 19, 2011

Killings at the border, again

Why do these keep recurring?

We wonder why Bangladeshi citizens continue to be shot by the Indian BSF despite assurances from the highest level of the Indian government that firing would not be resorted to by the BSF. 

Over a period of two days recently, as many as four Bangladeshis were killed in three different districts bordering India. Coming as the deaths do on the heels of the four-day DDG level meeting of the border forces of the two countries that ended last Thursday the killings are even more unacceptable.

The recent killings raise several questions. It was reportedly claimed by the BSF that they had opened fire only in self defence. What was the BSF defending against? Were they being attacked by armed people? 

It is also relevant to ask where the BSF was when they were allegedly under attack, behind or in front of the border fence. If behind the fence, how did the Bangladeshis manage to cross the fence, which is constantly under BSF observation throughout the day and night, both visual and electronic, in the first place, and more so when the BSF capacity to oversee the border is far greater than that of Bangladesh's. Did the BSF recover any lethal weapon that had supposedly threatened their lives? Reportedly, one of the Bangladeshi killed might have been strangle.

It appears that the harmless rubber bullets are not really harmless and apparently the Indian Home Minister's assurances during his visit to Dhaka in July that New Delhi had ordered BSF not to shoot anyone crossing Indo-Bangladesh border, no matter whatever the circumstances were, have not percolated down to the level of the Indian border outposts. 

Every border killing widens the trust deficit, unfortunately. It only helps the cause of the detractors of the efforts to take the pitch of bilateral relations to a new level. And thus there is urgent need for the Indian authorities to strictly enforce what it has committed to Bangladesh. The message to freeze weapons must go down to the last jawan as was committed by Mr. Chidambaram not very long ago. 

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