The disgustingly blasé public statement of the incumbent LGRD minister-cum-Awami League (AL) general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam has demonstrated his brazenly unfeeling insensitivity to the killings of hundreds of innocent Bangladesh citizens over the years by the Indian BSF personnel on the border which has been described by The Economist, the prestigious British newspaper, as one of the world’s bloodiest on Earth.
Ashraful’s utterance was unquestionably the most weird ever uttered anywhere in the world. People wonder aghast if it is time to call his allegiance into question. Other ministers — with special reference to the AL Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Home Minister Shahara Khatun — in the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in general lackadaisically shrug off these unprovoked murders.
An inhabitant of Chapainawabganj, Habibur Rahman was stripped and tortured by BSF men in uniform on December 9 last year as he refused to pay them a bribe. The video clip, which was aired on some Indian TV channels, including NDTV, earned strong criticism of the BSF personnel from people in both countries.
Ashraful Islam said on 21 January that the State was not worried about the killing and torture of Bangladeshi nationals by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) is simply shocking, to say the least. And hence it has sparked a flurry of criticism across the country and beyond. Islam said the “the State cannot put aside everything and only think about what is going on along the border” because such killing and torture “are nothing new, these were there in the past, these are happening now, and these will be in the future.”
By the way, on the same day, the people saw an astonishing synchronisation of wording of phrases of the Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, during a programme at the Petrapol land port in West Bengal, where his Bangladesh counterpart, AMA Muhith, was present. Mukherjee said there was no point in blowing the torture of a Bangladeshi national by BSF members out of proportion. The noticeable resemblance between the views of Syed Ashraf and Pranab Mukherjee could provide credibility to the oft-uttered allegations about the AL-led government that it is pursuing a weak-kneed, spineless, subservient India policy.
Mohammed Nur Islam’s 15-year-old daughter Felani’s death will remain a lasting scar on the people’s mind. The Economist reported on January 7, 2011 how India’s BSF —- also called “Border Smuggling Force”—- shot her dead; and Felani’s body hung from the barbed-wired fence for five hours. The BNP leaders gathered on 9 Feb 2011 at Kurigram town in protest against the killing of Felani and demanding trial in the international tribunal. But police obstructed the BNP leaders-activists when they tried to go to Felani’s home village.
India’s force has killed above 1,000 Bangladeshis over the past 10 years, meaning a shooting every four days. “The death toll between two democracies dwarfs the number killed attempting to cross the inner German border during the cold war,” wrote the Economist.
True, during our Liberation War India was our friend in need which we always acknowledge, but after independence she could not keep it up in so far as bilateral relations with Bangladesh are concerned. The developments that unfolded since the early seventies regarding the big neighbour’s attitude were most unpleasant, often antagonistic and intimidating. The issues are many: depriving co-riparian Bangladesh of her legitimate share of the Ganges water; greater plan to divert waters of the 54 common rives; the highly dangerous Tipaimukh dam; and refusal to sign the Teesta water sharing. Since time immemorial the then East Bengal, now Bangladesh, has been exercising its sovereign authority over the legitimate area of the Bay of Bengal, but conflict between Bangladesh and India over maritime boundaries lingers.
Dhaka’s disgraceful policy of keeping subserviently mum is most reprehensible when a significant section of Indian society has criticised and condemned Delhi government for failing to stop the border killings by trigger happy BSF. India’s National Human Rights Commission served notice on Indian Home Ministry, seeking a report on the BSF jawans who had recently assaulted a Bangladeshi youth near the Indo-Bangla border. Also on the same day, a leading Indian newspaper, The Hindu, asked New Delhi to “make an unreserved apology to Dhaka for the border troops’ brutal torture on the youth”.