White Paper Of An International Border Killing : Precarious Natives In World’s Dangerous International Border
Wedding Flower Withered Before Marriage
It was a dense and cold foggy late night of January 7th, 2011. Nothing was visible and no one was there to violate ‘night curfew’ (from dusk to dawn). A ‘shoot at sight order’ and 144-cr PC law, were in force all along one of the world’s most notorious International Borders – the India Bangladesh International Border. So, patrolling by the infamous International Border Security Guard (IBSG) – Border Security Force of India (BSFI) was going on. Everything seemed pensive but peaceful. Only the yelling of jackals and barking of the village dogs was heard from time-to-time.
It was in this dreadful condition and state of circumstances that the BSFI jawans on guard heard some whispering sounds of conversations just near the International Barbed Wire Border Fence (IBWBF). It was the sounds of conversation between a teenaged girl and her father. She was telling her father – ‘abba … abba … darao, amare dhoro …, amar jamatana kanta-tarer beray aitkagechhe’ … (means : …father…father…, wait, wait…, please help me…, my cloth got wrapped-around the barbed wire fence…).
This alarmed the BSFI soldier, Constable Amiyo Kumar Ghosh, who was on night-patrolling duty with his colleague, Head Constable – Mulinder Kumar Singh of 181-Battalion [BN] of BSFI. They were located between International Border Pillar Number [IBPN]-947/3-s to IBPN-948/2-s. Constable Ghosh thought it might be the conversations of some cattle smugglers, trying to push cattle to the Bangladesh side. The smugglers could attack them, if they tried to chase them. So, without taking any risk, he asked loudly, ‘Who are there…?’
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When the soldiers didn’t get any reply, they proceeded towards the IBWBF and saw indistinctly that someone was trying to (illegally) cross the international boundary from the side of ‘Bangladesh to India’ with the help of bamboo ladders. But, the soldiers didn’t notice properly that the person (that is, the teenaged girl) was stuck on one of the bamboo-ladders, (which was placed horizontally on IBWBF for illegal crossing the international border), because her cloth was wrapped around the IBWBF as she was trying to illegally cross the international border from ‘India to Bangladesh’ with the help of the bamboo ladders.
Seeing this, the BSFI soldiers proceeded further to stop the illegal crossing of the Indo-Bangla international border. There were (that is, in both Bangladesh and Indian sides) a few noted International Border Miscreants (IBM)s, who were generally known as – ‘mediator’ or ‘trespasser’ or ‘carrier,’ who suddenly came out under the cover of darkness in the dense foggy night and attacked the two soldiers with some sticks, ethnic sharp weapons (like – Dao or Kanchi, bamboo sticks, others), with a view to giving shape to their ‘plan.’
Initially, they started assaulting the two IBSG and after a few minutes, the IBM-led mob unexpectedly started throwing stones on the Night Patrolling Duty (NPD) BSFI party.
Sometimes, these types of situations between the IBM and the BSFI soldiers, deployed to protect the international boundary led to turn the place into a battle-field.
Death Devours A Delightful Dream Of Marriage
A similar situation occurred during the day of the incident. So, at that time, when the BSFI personnel on duty felt the situation was getting out of hand, they were unnerved. At that juncture, during the scuffle with some IBMs, one of them – Amiyo Ghosh fired his gun and the bullet hit the unfortunate teenage girl. Within a few seconds, she fell down from one of the ladders (as earlier mentioned, which was placed horizontally on IBWBF) and her body was hanging on the IBWBF and the blood was coming out profusely from her body. This frightened the father of the teenaged girl (he had already illegally crossed the international border and reached the Bangladesh side) and the IBMs, who fled in fear of their lives under the cover of darkness.
It was at about 01:55-am. Constable Ghosh and his colleague (who had no ‘Dragon Light’ or ‘Solar-tech Hand Held Search Light’ in their hands) informed all about the incident to their BSFI company commandant, Inspector Rama Brij Rai of International Border Out Post (IBOP) at Chowdhuryhat, under Nayarhat Police Out Post (POP), which is under main Police Station (PS) – Dinhata, the Sub-Division Headquarter of Coochbehar district of the Indian State, West Bengal. They told their company commandant that something happened wrong, during the time of their NPD.
Hearing this, the commandant immediately sent a team, comprising of 4 to 5 soldiers to the spot. When the BSFI team reached the spot (that is, near the IBWBF) at around 03:15-am, they found a body was hanging on the IBWBF with three bamboo-ladders and blood was profusely coming out from the body of a person. It was the unfortunate 16-years-old girl, ‘Felani Khatun.’
Later, the BSFI authority had come to know that Felani was illegally crossing the international boundary from ‘India to Bangladesh’ instead of ‘Bangladesh to India’ with a view to attending her own marriage ceremony, which could not be solemnized.
“… The persons very much responsible for the death of unfortunate girl Felani are no ones but a class of porters or Dalal (that is, mediator)s, who usually help the passengers to transit from one land to another against few currencies. But, on the day of the incident, neither I myself nor any known person or relative were present there. However, I have come to know that Nuru was found engaged in conversation with the mediators in connection with the division and distribution of the transaction or deal – for crossing (him and his daughter, Felani) the international borderline (that is, from India to Bangladesh).
In the meantime, Nuru had already crossed the international border and came to the Bangladesh side, while his daughter was crossing the international boundary with the help of one 12-feet and the other two 8-feet long Bansher Siri or Bansher Moi (that is, bamboo-ladder). In this context, it can be cited here that the bamboo-ladders were kept on both the sides (that is, one from the side of India and the other from the side of Bangladesh) or in a word it can say, one from inside the IBWBF and the other from outside the IBWBF, while the other (that is, third) bamboo ladder was placed horizontally or just in parallel way on top of the IBWBF to fix or to joint the ladders from both sides to make a clear and smooth way, to cross the international boundary.
But, when unexpectedly, Felani’s Salwar (that is, the lower portion of the cloth or pajama) got wrapped around in the three wire IBWBF, this terrified Felani. Immediately, she made a shriek in fear and called her father for help. In quick response to her scream as well as from the verbal spat that was going on between the mediators and Nuru created a loud sound, which alarmed the BSFI guards, who were in NPD. They thought that it might be the works of the cattle smugglers, who were doing this nuisance. They also thought these cattle smugglers might attack them at any moment under the cover of dense fog. So, without any delay, one of the BSFI soldiers opened fired at the point where the sounds were coming from.
As a result, the bullet pierced Felani’s body and subsequently she fell down from the second bamboo ladder and her body began to hang on the IBWBF. Seeing this, in fear for life, her father and the mediators (of both sides) fled away under the cover of darkness.
Nurul Islam Nuru and his daughter Felani were trying to cross the international boundary illegally with a view to entering into their own nation, Bangladesh from India for one of his important reasons. It was to get his daughter, Felani married with a young Bangladeshi man. It was apprehended that there might be ‘triangular’ verbal arguments going on between Nuru, the father of Felani, the mediators and the BSFI guards on the questions of the division and distribution money transaction of the deal (to cross Nuru and his daughter, Felani from India to Bangladesh), which was later on made null and void. This might be a cause of the brutal incident … ,” narrated poor peasant, Aminul Bepari, who resided (around 300-feet away from the incident place) beside the International Border Village (IBV) – Khitaberkuthi-Part-II under POP – Nayarhat, which is under Dinhata PS.
Ram Brij Rai, the company commandant of Indian IBOP Chowdhuryhat of 181-Battalion (BN) of BSFI, who was posted on that international boundary area at that time claimed, which he mentioned in his report and submitted to the Dinhata PS, “…On the night of 07th January, 2011, our soldiers Amiyo Ghosh and Mulindar Kumar Singh were in ‘Night Patrolling Duty’ (NPD) between the International Border (Patrol) Picket Number (IBPPN)-233 & IBPPN-466 and near between the IBPN-947/3-s to IBPN-948/2-s. While performing NPD near the IBPPN-244 that situated in between IBPN-947/3-s to IBPN-947/4-s, they saw an unknown person was trying to cross the international boundary illegally from ‘Bangladesh to India,’ with the help of bamboo ladders, which were installed on the both side of IBWBF and the another bamboo ladder placed horizontally on the IBWBF.
Seeing this, immediately NPD soldiers challenged them to stop but the person didn’t pay any heed to it. Meanwhile, the NPD heard the sound that many persons were coming towards them from both Bangladesh and Indian sides to challenge them (that is, NPD party). The NPD party tried to resist them but, in vain. The people thus came forward, became violent and they shouted, ‘Shaladerke Maro/Maro Shaladerke’ … (that is, kill them) and then they attacked and assaulted the NPD party right and left with local made sharpen arms, sticks. They also started pelting stones on the NPD party indiscriminately.
But, when the mob became more violent and attacked the NPD party at that time NPD party noticed that one person (read : Nuru) had crossed the IBWBF illegally and stood in the Bangladesh side with the help of the already placed those three bamboo ladders as well as with the help of those unknown miscreants, who attacked the NPD party and the another person (read : Nuru’s daughter, Felani) already climbed on the top of the IBWBF with a view to crossing the international boundary.
The NPD tried hard to control them but failed. They then found that their lives and government property were going at stake. Thus, finding no other way, constable Amiyo Ghosh, (one of the NPD party soldiers) on guard without further ado fired from his service weapon. This frightened the both sides of IBMs, gathered near the IBWBF and they immediately vanished away all in those dense foggy night.
Soon after thorough search, it was found one female unknown body with bullet injury was hanging on the IBWBF just near the IBPPN-244 that stands in between IBPN-947/3-s to IBPN-947/4-s. The spot, where actually the dead body of that unknown female body (read : Felani) was found is around 800-metres away from Indian IBOP Chowdhuryhat and about 30-metres away from Indian IBV-Khitaberkuthi-II and approximate 160-metres away from the Bangladeshi IBV (Anantapur)…”
Local administration officials in Coochbehar district also told the story from their point of view
“Indeed, earlier Muhammad Nuru (the father of Felani Khatun) was basically a mediator-cum-trespasser or trafficker. He did these works along with other jobs like – daily-wage-earning and others too on account of poverty. He lived at Kalonitari of Dokhhin (that is, Southern part of) Ramkhana area under Nageshwari Upozela of Kurigram district of Bangladesh. His teenaged daughter, Felani was shot dead in late night (that is, just before the early morning Namaaz, that is, prayer) of 07th January, 2011, at IBV of India – Khitaberkuthi-II, when he and his daughter illegally crossing the international border with a view to entering into their paternal house in Bangladesh. The exact spot, where she was shot dead looked like – crescent-shaped, near IBPPN – 244 and between the IBPN-947/3-s to IBPN-947/4-s. The IBVs of the Indian side near International Border Pillar (IBP)s are – (in the right side of the IBV – Khitaberkuthi-Part-II), Sadelerkuthi, Jhikri, Khitaberkuthi-Part-I, etcetera and (in the left side of the IBV – Khitaberkuthi-Part-II), Jaygir-Balabari, etcetera under (Dinhata Part-II Block and Chowdhuryhat Gram [that is, Village] Panchayet) Nayarhat POP, which is chiefly under main PS, Dinhata, the Sub-Division Headquarter of Coochbehar district of the Indian State, West Bengal (see the map), while on the other side, the IBVs of Bangladesh exist (Left to Right) – Sungsungi Hat, Chander Hat, Camper Hat and Dighirpar Hat (while Ramkhana village just behind the IBV, near Nakharganj Hat), under Nageshwari Thana (that is, PS) of Kurigram district of Bangladesh.
A case was registered at Dinhata PS (Case Number – 23/11, dated 07-01-2011, Under Section Indian Penal Code [IPC] – 143/341/188/186/332/353/307/14-A), as Unnatural Death Case Number – 05/11, 07/01/2011. Not only that even, when India’s counter part frontier international border force of Bangladesh – Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB), earlier known as – Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) had come to know about the entire incident from Nuru, on 31st January, 2011, they had requested to 181-BN of BSFI arrest of Mosharraf Sheikh, son of Abul Hossain Bepari of IBV – Khitaberkuthi-II, who took around Rs. 3000.00 to help Nuru and his daughter (illegally) to cross over the international boundary safely. Later, the BSFI with the help of Indian West Bengal State Police Force (IWBSPF) apprehended Mosharraf Sheikh, the key International Border Trespasser (IBT) and pushed him behind the bars after the incident. But, he was released on bail,” enlightened local officials of the district administrations of Coochbehar district.
In fact, how the entire episode had happened and what he and his entire family had to face, were told by Felani’s father, Nurul Islam Nuru later in detail over telephone from Bangladesh, “… It was the year around, 1977. Once the Bangladesh Police Force (BPF) personnel had run after a convict. He was actually a petty (cross international border) smuggler in our areas. At that time, we were very little kids, around six or six and a half-years-old. It was afternoon, when the incident took place. With our father, I myself and others of our family were doing lunch. The convict in fear of life took shelter in one of our rooms to hide him. We didn’t know this. Suddenly, a few BPF personnel entered into our house in order to catch or nab that convict. When, they asked us about that criminal, we replied that we didn’t know anything. So, they started to search out that criminal and after a little while they found that crook from cowshed. The police thought that we had given him shelter and we knew everything of him. We were utterly unaware about the incident or criminal, but, the police didn’t believe us. The police thought that we were directly connected with it and so we helped that anti-social element to hide in our house. At that time, the BPF personnel brutally beat our father right and left. They punched heavily on his abdomen and body. Before our eyes, my father fell down in our Uthan (that is, courtyard) and died trembling. But, honestly speaking, my father Hafej Ali, alias Hafej-Uddin (that is, paternal-grandfather of Felani) was never a criminal neither a convict nor anti-social. He was just a poor agricultural labour or simply daily-wage-earner.”
Abdul Malek, elder brother of Nurul Islam Nuru explains how Nurul Islam Nuru, a Bangladeshi, came to be in India
“After the death of our father, the economic conditions of our family became very pitiful. Impecunious Nuru at that time got puzzled and so he took a decision to go to India to earn two-meals-a-day. According to that plan, Nuru took our ailing mother – Alijan (Begum) Bewa, our little brother Abdul Khalil and myself with him and left home. Being a very indigent family, we crossed the international border illegally with the help of a mediator and reached Block headquarter, Hamiltonganj village under Alipurduar Sub Division of Jalpaiguri district of the Indian State West Bengal. After few days of this, we lost our mother and buried her there,” disclosed Abdul Malek, elder brother of Nurul Islam Nuru.
Abdul Khalil, younger brother of Nurul Islam Nuru provides more information
“Without finding any other means, penniless Nuru and his brother went out in search of works in various places. After about three to four years, suddenly our elder brother, Abdul Malek went back home (through the international boundary, which was totally porous) at Kalonitari village of Dokhhin Ramkhana area under Nageshwari Upozela of Kurigram district of Bangladesh. At that time, (like us) anybody can go and come back or crisscross to the international boundary unabatedly. Truly speaking, at that time, there was no problem to crisscross the international borderline, because the IBWBF was absent. It was fully porous or open.
Later, after few months, Nuru went to Alipurduar (the Sub-division headquarters of Jalpaiguri district) for a job and adopted rag-picking profession. During this time, he met Felani’s mother, Jahanara Khatun, who had also came to India to earn two-meals-a-day. She had been staying with her grandmother – Aiyali Khatun. But, Nuru came to know that Felani’s mother was also a resident of his neighbouring hamlet – Banarbhita of Dokhhin Ramkhana area. Then by degrees, they came nearer to each other and at last they got married. After few months or so their first child (girl) was born. Her name was Nasima Khatun. But, unfortunately she wouldn’t survive. She died, when she was a child of one-and-half-month.
However, after a year or so a second girl child was born to them. It was none but Felani. Luckily she survived. After that another five children were born to them. They are Maleka Khatun (13), Januddin alias Jahanuddin Islam (12), Arfan Ali (11), Akkas Ali (10) and Kajali Khatun (09). Except Arfan Ali and Akkas Ali, all are born in India. Out of six children, at present, Nurul has two daughters and three sons and Felani was the eldest. Meanwhile, I moved to Lanka town area, which was situated in Nagaon District of eastern Indian State, Assam,” revealed the younger brother of Nuru, Abdul Khalil, who is doing some coal related business in Lanka town Bazaar area and presently living at Lanka town and later, he has married an Indian girl.
It should be noted that Felani in Bengali dialect means an object to be thrown away or to discard. Nuru and Jahanara had given this name to their first girl child, because of the fear of premature death of their new born children. Reason : in a poor family in rural Bangladesh, high infant mortality exists. It is due to various ‘ailments,’ ‘undernourishment’ and ‘complications during childbirth,’ parents (who are mostly uneducated and completely ignorant and unaware of modern medical science) get perturbed. Specially, when the parents loose one newborn after another, they put the blame of their babies’ death on blind faith or fear. So, in order to avoid, the evil gawk from their kids the disheartened fathers and mothers prefer an eerie name like – Felani (that is, a discard or an unwanted child) for their infant, wishing for his or her long life.
Jahanara Begum, Nuru’s wife provides more information
Nuru’s wife Jahanara Begum further added over cell phone, “After the birth of Felani, our condition became drab and at last we settled our mind that we would leave, Alipurduar. Accordingly, we left Alipurduar and went to Bhawlaguri village of Tuniapar (that is, the place situated on the bank of the river – Tunia rivulet) under Dangtol POP of Bongaigaon district of the Indian State, Assam, where my husband became a rickshaw-puller and sometimes he worked as a daily-labour in brick-kilns to earn two-meals-a-day properly. In the meantime, we had to go to our original house in Bangladesh, once or twice in a year, through the international border.
After some months, we owned a tea-cum-betel-leaf-cum-grocery shop. It had cost around 03-lakhs to 04-lakhs of rupees. Meanwhile, when Felani became a girl about 15-years to 16-years old, her father came to Bangladesh and settled her marriage with her maternal cousin, Mohammad Amjad Hussain. He was the eldest son of Idris Ali by his wife Anjena Begum of Char-kulaghat under Kulaghat Union of Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh. At that time, Amjad had been working in a garment manufacturing factory at Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The date of marriage was fixed on 09th January, 2011.”
Nuru’s neighbours tell the story of connecting with the mediators
“Actually, Nuru wanted to get his daughter (Felani) married soon. Because of the date of marriage was almost near, he made a plan. Thus, according to that plan, in the morning around 09:30 am, he set out for their paternal house in Bangladesh with his daughter from their temporary house in Bongaigaon on 6th January, 2011 and reached Chowdhuryhat bus stand of Coochbehar district. Seeing them standing warily at the bus stand, one of the Dalals (namely – Mosharraf Sheikh, son of Abul Hossain Bepari of Indian IBV – Khitaberkuthi) and his partners (Bujrat Ali and three to four others) or so followed them. The Dalal and his men said that they would help them to cross the international border smoothly, if Nuru could pay them around 4,000-Indian Rupees (Rs.). But, poor Nuru denied. But, later on, after a little bargaining, Nuru agreed to offer them around Rs. 3,000 (keeping in mind the imminent date of his daughter’s marriage, which was scheduled to be solemnized on 9th January, 2011).
In fact, the amount Rs. 3,000 was fixed after consultation with Solemon (the Bangladeshi dalal) over telephone by Bujrat, who used or carried Bangladeshi Subscriber Identity Module or Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card (for his cell or mobile phone) to run his illegal ‘international border businesses.’ But, before he paid the amount, Nuru told them that ‘no harm is made upon them, especially to his daughter whatsoever.’ In reply the mediators assured him that no harm be made to her. Thus, After receiving cent percent assurance from the mediators, Nurul Islam brought his daughter to the house of Mosharraf Sheikh and decided that they would move after the Fazr Azaan or Fazr Namaaz (means : early-morning-prayer, that is, before sun-rise, the Islamic religious peoples call to dawn prayers to almighty Allah, that is, god). At that time, Nuru’s daughter – Felani wore red and white coloured woolen-sweater, deep blue Churidar or Salwar-kamiz or Salwar-kurta (Frock or Salwar means – lower portion of cloth or pajama and Kurta or Kamiz means – upper portion of cloth) and ornaments – one Nak-ful (that is, silver nose-ring or nose-pin), one Putir-mala (that is, string of beads), one silver-chain, one bangle or wristlet, a pair of silver Payel (that is, ankle-bells). But, between 21:00-pm to 01:00-am due to their safety, mediators pulled and hauled them three to four times (that is, exchanged from one place to another) and at last reached to the IBWBF, near the International Border Pillar Number (IBPN) – 947/03-s at around 01:00-am to 01:30-am with ladders ladders made of bamboo.
Notwithstanding that, the illegal mediators-cum-smugglers changed and retarded the time of crossings of IBWBF. It was decided that they would cross the IBWBF, after early-morning-prayer or when the first light of the sun would approach; but, till then they would hang around for an opportunity. But, however, all their efforts failed. At this the mediators got agitated and apprehended that they would miss the opportunity for giving a ‘safe-passage’ to Nuru and his daughter – Felani. So, they began to pressurize them for the deed. Even, the mediators threatened that if they wouldn’t try and would miss the chance, then they would never be able to cross the dangerous international border and in that case their (Nuru’s) money would be forfeited and they wouldn’t get them back at all. This put Nuru into the sea of peril and got ready to cross the IBWBF or barrier.
The mediators first pushed Nuru to Bangladesh side safely and then tried to push his daughter. But, unfortunately, when Nuru’s daughter climbed and reached to the second bamboo-ladder (which was placed or kept on the top of the IBWBF parallel way) to cross the IBWBF, suddenly her blue colored (lower portion of) cloth (called – loose-pantaloons or trousers or pajama or salowar) screwed into the IBWBF. Felani became puzzled and began to shriek or scream. In response to her scream, the BSFI (who were on their night patrol duty) on guard, fired upon them. The bullet hit the (upper right side of her) chest of Felani and she fell from the second ladder and her body began to hang from the IBWBF. Felani’s father started to yell out for his daughter but, when he didn’t get any response, he ran out from the place in fear of life. But, he couldn’t go far, he lost his sense and fell down on the ground,” articulated neighbourer Abdul Khaleque and Abdul Barek of Dokhhin Ramkhana village areas of Nuru.
Fact-finding Report by Human Rights Monitoring Group of Bangladesh
Supporting the facts, the Human Rights Monitoring Group of Bangladesh (HRMGB) or Human Rights Monitoring Team of Bangladesh (HRMTB), namely Odhikar, mentioned in their fact finding reports, “Though the body of the deceased teenager was found hanging on the IBWBF till 11:00-am, even, when the soldiers of the BGB, of IBOP at Anantapur, who were in patrol duty, went to the spot of the incident at around 06:15-am, but yet they could not locate the body of Felani due to heavy fog. In this way, a lot of time passed by and about 10:30-am, another group of BGB came out for rendering their patrolling duty on the international borderline. It was at that time, they saw that the body of Felani was hanging over the IBWBF (which was in fact hanging on the Bangladesh side (see picture) and then informed their company commandant without any ado.”
Repatriating the dead girl back to India
“In the meantime, when Inspector Ram Brij Rai, the company commandant of IBOP Chowdhuryhat of 181-Battalion (BN) of BSFI reached the spot at around 11:00-am, the BSFI soldiers brought down the lifeless body of Felani from IBWBF with the help of two or three local people and kept her lying on one of the bamboo ladders (which had been placed on the spot by the mediators to help Felani and her father to cross the international boundary and to reach Bangladesh easily) and took away to the adjacent International Border Road (IBR), where ‘vehicle’ was waiting for, to carry her dead body to the nearest BSFI IBOP camp – Chowdhuryhat and subsequently to the Maharaja Jitendra Narayan (MJN) district hospital of Coochbehar district for postmortem,” emphasized Asraf Ali, son of Huzur Mianh, resident of IBV- Khitaberkuthi-Part-II.
Report of HRMTB further claimed, “Meanwhile, the BN or company commander of Phulbari BGB, Nayab Subeder – Abdul Jabbar sent a letter to the commandant of BSFI and lodged strong protest against the killing of Felani and asked to arrange a flag meeting and to hand over her dead body. Lieutenant Colonel Abdur Razzak Tarafdar commanding officer of 27-BN BGB of Kurigram district at around noon contacted his counterpart ‘Indian BSFI commanding officer of 181-BN, Commandant S. H. Manindra Singh (which is not true, at that time, the BSFI commanding officer was Commandant Manjinder Singh of 181-BN) over telephone to confirm the incident and requested (him) to return the dead body of Felani.”
But, within 24-hours, that is, on 8th January, 2011, BSFI arranged a flag-meeting, which took around 45 to 50 minutes, where BSFI (Company Commander of 181-BN at IBOP Chowdhuryhat, Ram Brij Rai), about 25 to 30 other BSFI personnel and the IWBSPF personnel) appeared and handed over the dead body of Felani that was kept in a wooden made coffin box to the hands of company commander of BGB of Kashipur camp of Phulbari (under Kurigram District) camp, Nayab Subeder, Abdul Jabbar, Havildar – Sanaullah Mianh, who was in-charge of Anantapur IBOP, (while other sources claimed that he was not in-charge of Anantapur IBOP but posted as a Sub Inspector (SI) of Nageshwari PS), SI of Phulabrai PS of Kurigram district – Muhammad Nuruzzaman, Paschim Ramkhan (that is, West Ramkhana, which is under Phulbari PS) Gram Panchayet (GP), that is, Village Panchayet members – Muhammad Hakim, son of Late Manu Bepari, Muhammad Abdul Rashid Bepari, son of Muhammad Abdul Rahaman Bepari and around 13 to 15 other BGB personnel at around 11:15-am (and 11:40-am as per Bangladesh time). The lifeless body of Felani was identified by her maternal uncle, Muhammad Hanif Ali, son of Late Abejuddin of Dokhhin Ramkhana, under Nageshwari PS of Kurigram district).
The HRMGB also stated in their report, “Felani’s uncle – Muhammad Abdus Salam and the ex-Union Porishad Chairman of Kurigram district of Bangladesh, Abdul Alim, Ward member, Abdur Rashid were present, when BSFI had handed over Felani’s dead body to them on 8th January, 2011. After receiving Felani’s dead body, the BGB officials sent her dead body to Phulbari PS of Kurigram district around 5:00-pm for further examinations or investigations and to arrange other official procedures.
On 9th January, 2013, about 07:00-am, Felani’s dead body was sent to Kurigram district hospital from Phulbari PS for further post-mortem. After the completion of the post mortem, the Bangladesh Kurigram District Police Force (BKDPF) handed over Felani’s dead body to her relatives, maternal uncle – Hanif Ali alias Abdul Hanif at around 15:00-hours at Kolonitari. Thus, by the midnight, Felani’s body was buried into grave in the backyard of her (original, that is, grand father’s) abode. It was done on the day, when her marriage would have to be solemnized.”
The HRMGB added furthermore in detail, “Sub Inspector of Phulbari PS, Nuruzzaman, who had been investigating that particular case, said that Felani’s dead body brought to their PS in the evening and in this connection a case (case Number – 01/11, dated 08/01/2011) was registered. Felani’s father Nurul Islam complained that he had received his daughter’s dead body but without jewelries that Felani had worn. While on the other hand, Doctor Muhammad Nazrul Islam, Residential Medical Officer of Kurigram district hospital disclosed in his post mortem report that one bullet, which had pierced Felani’s chest, just below the collarbone (that is, upper part of the right side) and had come out through the right part of her rib cage. On the other side, Doctor Mohammad Hafizur Rahman, Civil Surgeon of Kurigram district hospital clearly said that there was no difference in the postmortem report, which was carried out by the Indian doctors as well as their team of doctors (Rai, Dr. Sohel Rana, Dr. Mahfuzur Rahaman Sarkar and Dr. Ajoy Kumar.”
“After the death of our eldest daughter, I wanted to bring back my children and wife to my paternal house in Bangladesh. With a view to returning to her father-in-laws house in Bangladesh, on 14th February, 2011, my wife, Jahanara with our other five children started from Bongaigaon and reached to Chowdhuryhat IBOP of BSFI at Indo-Bangla international boundary. Then after long time, they arrived at our original house in Bangladesh through the International Border Gate (IBG) Number-03 of the international border, near IBPN-948/05-s, when BSFI, Chowdhuryhat handed over to them to BGB, Kurigram district,” stated Felani’s father.
Ordering an inquiry into the death of Felani
Later, the incident took massive reactions in Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh also reacted in this context and demanded that the Government of India should take immediate sturdy action against the BSFI personnel, constable Amiyo Kumar Ghosh of 181-BN, who allegedly killed innocent Felani. The Government of India took the matter seriously and ordered an enquiry.
In this context, on 13th August, 2013, Dr. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, former Minister of Home Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh said, “…We are trying to solve the problem amicably and hope Felani will get justice (for her killing/death by BSFI soldier) and her needy father will get proper compensation by the Government of India…”
On the same day (that is, 13th August, 2013), the Commander of 45-BGB BN of Kurigram (district), said, that he uttered again on 18th August, 2013, in front of the Bangladesh media, “We will not consider any kind of firing or gunshot on the residents of IBVs. We do not like to know, whether the person was crossing the international borderline illegally or so. The soldiers took actions against the person, who broke the laws as per international border rules. Besides this, we know and we have enough information that many peoples use to cross this particular international border illegally and enter into India from Bangladesh with a view to getting job and earning fat money in lieu of work or labour.”
Eventually, in this milieu, Government of India instituted a General Security Force Court (GSFC), which is equivalent to Indian (Army) Court Martial and started a trial against Amiyo Ghosh at the 181-Battalion camp of BSFI at Sonari village under Coochbehar district on 14th August, 2013.
Kurigram Public Prosecutor Advocate S. M. Abraham Lincoln, who provided legal assistance to Nurul Islam, said, “In this particular case we hope that the trial be made free and fair so that we will get justice and if the guilty gets punishment then in future, nobody, especially, who guards this international border (indicates towards BSFI) will never commit such kind of heinous crime. Further, if this happens then they (points at BSFI) can not do whatever they like. We also hope that the family of Felani will be able to get proper compensation, that’s all.”
On 19th August, 2013, Felani’s father, maternal uncle, 45-Battalion (in Kurigram district) of BGB commander – Lieutenant Colonel Zia-ul-Haque Khaled and the public prosecutor of Kurigram District Court of Bangladesh, S. M. Abraham Lincoln also attended that court for the case.
Maswood Alam Khan, a Bangladeshi writer, based in Maryland, United States of America (USA), wrote in one of the online newspapers of Bangladesh, www.kurigramnews.net, “Neither Felani, nor her father, Nuru was acquainted with the conventions and procedures of the international border security provisions. Nurul Islam’s daughter was just climbed the ladders with the wish of rendering a reverie of her cheerful wedding into veracity.
Everyone should be acquainted that no law enforcement organization generally fires shots at unarmed civilians or human beings, whether he or she is in the international border zone during warfare or fighting on a road embargo or curfew, unless he or she tries or challenges to do something that perhaps cause danger to the life of the law enforcers.”
On 6th September, 2013, the five judges of the BSFI court (called – GSFC) of inquiry listened entire incident and found ultimately Amiyo Ghosh (the BSFI constable, who was charged, in this case with culpable homicide and later charge-sheeted) was ‘not guilty’ and had not shot the Bangladeshi girl (Felani) dead, while she was crossing the international boundary illegally with her father, Nuru. Amiyo did it as a self defence, because it was none but IBTs and cattle smugglers (who usually push the humans to the Indian side and the cattle to the Bangladesh side) and they attacked him and his colleague, when they chased them on that dense foggy day. The higher authority of the international border force organisation – BSFI, didn’t agree with the GSFC’s findings and ordered a retrial or revision trial in this context. That means, again a fresh court would be constituted and a retrial would be held.
Hearing the verdict of the GSFC court, one of the Indian West Bengal State based human rights groups, namely – Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) – filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court of India (SCI), with a view to having justice for Felani Khatun, a Bangladeshi minor girl, shot dead by a BSFI personnel at India Bangladesh International Border, while she was trying to illegally cross the international boundary on 07th January, 2011.
The organization is also seeking compensation for the victim as well as sentence or punishment for the BSFI constable – Amiyo Kumar Ghosh, who is accused of shooting the girl on duty and was charged with culpable homicide.
One of the higher officials of the BSFI commented, “Felani’s death that occurred as a result of the firing made by the BSFI personnel was not at all a good thing. Similarly, it was also not at all wise to declare the BSFI soldier, Amiyo Ghosh on duty not guilty by the GSFC. Later on, at the pressure of the Government of Bangladesh, a complaint was lodged against Amiyo Ghosh as per Under Section (US) IPC-304 (unintended killing) and at the same time, as per law of BSFI US-146. Not only that even, at the pressure of the various national and international organizations of India as well as the Bangladesh, the DG of BSFI ordered for the reviewing of the case. As a result of this, on 22nd September, 2014, the retrial of the case was set into motion, but after 05-days it got a halt. Again the trial was started on 17th November, 2014 but as because Amiyo Ghosh fell ill suddenly and so the case would get ensued on 25th March, 2015.”
False stories & pictures in Bangladesh Media
Just after the incident, false, concocted, fabricated and distorted facts were being published, broadcast and promulgated by some noted Bangladeshi newspapers, magazines, television news channels, organisations, and in social media, without reference to actual fact. It seems this had been done to create bitterness between the two nations and their peoples. A few special anti-Bangladesh and anti-Indian vicious circles also desired desperately to put the Sheikh Haisna led AL Government in an embarrassing position internationally.
Abhijit Sarkar, a young and energetic local broadcast reporter-cum-cameraman, who not only lives in the international border town – Jalpaiguri (the district headquarter of Indian State, West Bengal) but also extensively covers the international boundary in state and (Indian) national level media and Tejesh Tripathi, one of the journalists of Indian State, Assam, who has been reporting in one of the Indian national newspapers for a long time, cited, “By all means, when Felani’s father, Nurul Islam revealed entire facts and figures in front of the media representatives of the various well-known media organisations of Bangladesh and even the human rights organization of Bangladesh, at that time, a major section of the media houses and the human right organisations were regularly reported or presented almost wrong/false reports. They did it on the basis of the reports of so-called social-medias of Bangladesh, which were also published in the worldwide well-known social-media websites like – ‘facebook,’ ‘tweeter,’ ‘blogs’ and others. The most astonishing facts and points to be noted here that a few section of the reports of Odhikar, HRMGB, were also documented one sided and wrong.
Even, during the time of incident, without making any investigation thoroughly and instituting spot verification, the reporters of the few Indian newspapers and magazines were also reported on the basis of the reports of the social-medias of Bangladesh and the Odhikar. For an instance it can be said here that the Odhikar report claimed, ‘Nuru is a resident of Bongaigaon district of Indian State, Assam.’ While the truth is that Nuru was never an inhabitant of Banogaigaon district of the Indian State of Assam. He is truly denizen and bona-fide citizen of Bangladesh. He is very poor and this was why, to earn two-meals-a-day and for better life, he illegally entered into India, like others (millions) of Bangladeshis.”
Supporting the information supplied by Abhijit Sarkar, a human rights activist-cum-professor of West Bengal, Sujata Bhadra admitted, “It is a fact and it can not be rendered null and void that instead of real and horrific picture of Felani’s body (see the picture, that her upper side body was hanging on the IBWBF for hours before international border guards of both the nations brought it down), a false gory picture of another (earlier mentioned naxal cadre) girl (see picture, that the inert body of the girl was tied up with a bamboo-pole and was taken away by the soldiers) was circulated through the internet, in the name of Felani by a section of socio-political-religious groups of Bangladesh to create bitterness or animosity relation between the two states and their peoples.”
For instance – “A section of politicians had been distributing distressing poster across the nation in a bid to incite the public. One of them, BNP district leader Saidur Rahman Bachhu, who was later arrested and a case was filed against him with others on the charge of carrying posters that had carried some derogatory remarks like – ‘shameless,’ ‘betrayer minister,’ ‘pro-Indian,’ etcetera, against the then Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dipu Moni…” revealed a police officer of Bangladesh Police Force (BPF) of a Sadar Thana (that is, Police Station of District Headquarter) of Sirajganj, who had been investigating the matter.
Similarly, nine activists of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) of Kusthia district of Bangladesh were arrested because of the same reasons, a local Bangladesh newspaper claimed.
“All this false and irrelevant information and propaganda about Felani was in fact started just after her death (that is, after 9th January, 2011) by a section of anti-Indian and a section of social-political-religious forces of Bangladesh, who made the bar for the impendence of Bangladesh. As a result, the merit of the case of Felani lost its credibility.
In this context, it could be mentioned here (which could be most dangerous practices) that the Bangladeshi print and electronic media, social-media organizations and even, human-rights groups (till today) showed (a still image instead of audio-video visual pictures) that – the Felani’s motionless body was dishonoured. Her hands and legs were tied up with a bamboo-pole and then brought to the IBOP hanging like animal, after it had brought down from the top of the IBWBF (see picture) are absolutely fake.
Felani’s father, who didn’t know anything, expressed his opinion regarding hauling Felani’s dead body hanging like animal to the IBOP in front of the media and other’s Non Governmental Organsiation (NGO)s on the basis of the reports appeared in media’s publications and hearing from his neighbourers and relatives.
Therefore, it was a very serious issue and it was one kind of a severe crime committed by the Bangladeshi social, print and electronic medias as well as human rights group, if the organsiations had really done it,” asserted senior social-political expert-cum-television journalist, Pradip Sarkar, who lives at district headquarter town Jalpaiguri of the state, West Bengal that kisses the international boundary and has been covering the day-to-day events of the boundary since 1993.
Upon enquiry (in this specific issue), over telephone (from his house of Kolonitari village of Bangladesh) Nuru clearly said, “I hadn’t seen how had my daughter’s motionless body carried out? The peoples of our IBVs had seen this. They said that ‘my daughter’s dead body kept on Bansher Modhye (that is, on bamboo-ladder, not specifically said or mentioned that her ‘hands and legs were tied up with bamboo-pole’) and had taken away to the nearest BSFI camp, after it had brought down from the top of the IBWBF, where she was hanging…”
Accounts of eyewitnesses during removal of the dead-body of Felani
Anupam Saha, Local Journalist :
“Firstly : whatever Felani’s father had said was correct. He had never seen his daughter’s dead body and how had it carried away and where was it sent to? Because, he was lying unconsciously on the bed in the house at Kolonitari village. Secondly : Felani’s motionless body had carried away by a vehicle after it had brought down from IBWBF with the help of three to four local IBV (Khitaberkuthi-Part-II) people as well as the personnel of IWBSPF to the nearest BSFI IBOP camp – Chowdhuryhat. Later her dead body sent to the Maharaja Jitendra Narayan (MJN) district hospital of Coochbehar district for postmortem. Thirdly : The major portions of the reports of social, print, television, blogs and HRMGB are absolutely wrong, concocted and fabricated.
The news (that Indian soldiers had dishonoured the dead body of the innocent girl, Felani and her hands and legs were tied up with a bamboo-pole and had taken away in a hanging way like animal or something like that…), which were printed in the responsible and well-known print media, published in internet editions, showed in television news channels and circulated (virally) in the social media and other internets in Bangladesh as well as the all over the world, was totally fallacious, fictitious and unethical. While the fact was that the girl’s inert body that was tied up with a bamboo-pole and was taken away by the soldiers was none but a woman Naxal (Maoist) cadre, who was killed with her other inmates (out of eight rebels, three were women cadres, while another five were male cadres) in an encounter with the commandos of the Indian Para Military Security Force – the Central Reserve Police Force’s Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and the soldiers of the IWBSPF in the Ranjha forest of Paschim Medinipur (that is, West Medinipur) district in the state, West Bengal on 16th June, 2010 (see that picture and it’s related series of pictures). The matter would be cleared and the difference between the two pictures would come to light if anyone looks into the two pictures with all attention or intensity.
Apart from this, the dresses that were worn by Felani and the Maoist woman cadre were totally different, even the colour and hair were unmatchable too, etcetera, etcetera…,” Anupam Saha said. Anupam Saha pointed out the differences in the photographs of both Felani and the Maoist woman. Anupam Saha is a local journalist of an electronic media house (in Kolkata, capital of the Indian state, West Bengal) of Coochbehar district. He went to cover the Felani incident, but was unable to take video footage due to heavy restrictions of the Indian para-military force – BSFI and other local district administrations.
Debnath Maity, Photographer :
“… I got a huge shock, when I saw my pictures of the dead Maoist cadres were used by the hackers of Bangladesh and even, international well-known media houses (whether it were newspapers or magazines or television news channels, journals, tabloids, etcetera) and their reporters and photographers in the name of unfortunate girl, Felani. It is nothing but a pure ‘yellow journalism’ and the ‘evil mentality’ of a section of youths, journalists, the media organizations, social media and the people of Bangladesh. Most astonishing fact is that the sections are still using the same deliberately, in this context…,” said Debnath Maity, a photographer, whose pictures were published in the Indian newspapers and released in Indian and foreign photo agencies.
H. Mansur, Indian Hacker :
“As far as my information and the Bangladeshi hackers friends are concerns, few groups of hackers (backed by few political parties of Bangladesh, including the main opposition political party – Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP] led by former PM of Bangladesh-Begum Khaleda Zia and its allied parties like – Pan-Islamic religious support based political party, Jamat-e-Islami Bangladesh [JEIB], former president of Bangladesh – Hussain Muhammad Ershad led political party, Jatio Party [JP] and Ameer Allama Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini led Islami Oikyo Jote [IOJ], that supported the Pan Islamic Religious Fundamental Militant Group [PIRFMG] like Taliban, etcetera) had not only breached hundreds of Indians websites but also spread false pictures of Felani in well-known social-networking-websites – facebook, tweeter, orkut, and others like – alibaba, priyo, etcetera. The attack came within the few hours, when the few newspapers and the websites of Bangladesh reported and published the original picture of Felani (see picture), whose body was hanging on the IBWBF. The hackers shared the news and post the wrong picture (see picture of naxal cadre) of Felani of their ‘achievements’ on various online forums and social-networking-sites, where they claimed to have defaced India to avenge ‘killings of Bangladeshis at the international border,” disclosed H. Mansur, an Indian hacker, who took training on ‘hacking’ in Bangladesh and lived near the India-Bangladesh international border in Coochbehar district.
Unnamed R&AW Official :
“Yes, it is a fact that whatever H. Mansur said in this regard. Even, I can say that the well-known army intelligence of present Pakistan (earlier known as – West Pakistan) – Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and few PIRFMGs of the state, with the help of their country hackers also added in behalf of Bangladesh at that time, which couldn’t deny it,” emphasized an official (who doesn’t want to disclose his name) of the Indian Intelligence organisation – Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW).
Diptiman Sengupta, Socio-political activist & Assistant General Secretary of BBEECC, NGO :
“… At that time, when we saw the picture initially specially in the newspapers, magazines, television-news, blogs, social-media and others websites like various NGOs of the Bangladesh as well as of the world (specially, Southern Asia Continent), we got shocked and annoyed. But, after proper investigation we had found and could say vociferously and clearly that it was (and still now) not only a vicious move or attempt or attack by the cadres or the activists of main opposition political party of Bangladesh -BNP and its allied parties like – JEIB, JP and IOJ, that supported the PIRFMGs, but also to generate and tried a massive chaos in the social, cultural and political spheres of Bangladesh through various ways and to affront or down India before the world. These political-religious fundamental parties wanted to defame India as well as Sheikh Hasina Wazed led Bangladesh’s nationalist political party – Awami League (AL), who is in the chair of government for no other purpose but to get mileage in the general election (held on 05th January, 2014) in Bangladesh and nothing else…,” stated Diptiman Sengupta, one of the well-known socio-political activist of the NGO -Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee (BBEECC) of Coochbehar district.
Farmers, Gaon Panchayet Members & Others :
“… Yes, whatever had everybody listened and seen in the place were entirely different. It is true that there are several these kinds of incidents happened in this particular infamous international boundary in so many times. But, the most important fact is that we never agree with all the baseless, naked and malicious news and views of a particular section of a people, political parties (BNP, IOJ, JP, JEIB and their allies) of Bangladesh as expressed and ventilated with regard to Felani and her dead body for it is but a loathsome and laughable socio-political chat. Our BSFI personnel, who are posted on the international boundary to offer their round-the-clock duty to guard the same, are not duly honoured. A part of these personnel often purchase bad names for their activities but in reality they are not that type of men. They never show any dishonour to any dead person.
Whatsoever, next day of the incident (that is, 08th January, 2011) we and the entire people of our locality were present there and saw the whole incident and so, we can say and swear that IWBSPF and BSFI officials brought down the motionless body of Felani from out side (read – Bangladesh side) of the IBWBF with the help of two to three local men and kept her lying on one of the bamboo ladders (which had been used or placed on the incident spot by both side mediators to help Felani and her father to cross the international boundary and to reach the Bangladesh side easily) and after that came out with her dead body through IBG Number-01 and took her away to the adjacent International Border Road (IBR), where the white coloured cab was waiting, to carry her dead body to the nearest BSFI IBOP camp – Chowdhuryhat and later to the nearest district hospital of Coochbehar district for Punchnama (that is, postmortem).”
“The real fact was entirely different and opposite. Felani’s dead-body was neither tied up with a bamboo pole nor was taken away like an animal at all,” described the eyewitnesses of IBV – Khitaberkuthi-II, 33-years-old poor farmer – Zaidul Sheikh, son of Jalal Sheikh Mianh (means, gentleman), who resided just 14-feet to 15-feet of the incident spot, and around 61-years-old Fatima Bewa and sexagenarian Jeleka Bibi, who also dwelled just 10 to 12-metres from the exact incident place and their neighbour, 40-years-old Moklesh Rahman and Bilait Hossain, son of Muhammad Fazzaruddin Sarkar.
Supporting those facts, 32-years-old poor farmer Karim Mianh of IBV – Anantapur of Kurigram district in Bangladesh, who dwelled just near the actual zero-line of the international border and a few metres away from the incident spot, emphasized, “It is the fact that next day (that is, 08th January, 2011) we were standing the incident spot till our village girl’s dead body brought down from the IBWBF and took away for postmortem, but, never saw that her body (specially – hands and legs) were tied up with a bamboo pole and had taken hanging.”
Similar statements were also made by the other eyewitnesses of IBV – Khitaberkuthi-II GP members – Zubeda Biwi, Afzal Hossain, Bablu Barman, Nirmalya Das and Jagai Saha of Chowdhuryhat GP member as well as the other people of IBVs of India, who were watching the incident on that day and Manoranjan Roy, Sub-Inspector of Nayarhat POP, who inspected the entire case.
Sheikh Bodruzaman Firdowsy, Whistleblower-cum-Professor :
Sheikh Bodruzaman Firdowsy, is a whistleblower-cum-professor of Arabic subject of Hatsingimari college, in Hatsingimari village of Dhubri district of the Eastern Indian State, Assam, who not only teaches in the college, but also raises various issues and problems of the international border areas through his write-ups. He lamented, “…Whatever a section of Bangladesh people and media organsiations had done (with the false picture) was a shameful act. It reflected the cheap mentality of a section of journalists also. On the other, it was a purely cold blooded murder and there was no doubt about this. BSFI soldiers, who were on duty at that night, could easily restrain their gun, arrested her and later sent to jail as per law but they couldn’t…”
Sofiqul Islam, Journalist-cum-Social activist :
Sofiqul Islam, journalist-cum-social activist, who not only lives at India Bangladesh International Border Town (IBT) – Mankachar of Dhubri district, but also gives coverage on the incidents of the international Border said anxiously, “…Now you can easily guess or imagine, how were the true news molded and then presented to cover (in the various national and international newspapers, magazines, journals, etcetera), and circulate that often spread hatred, animosity or in inciting sedition, which made bitter relation between the two nations and their peoples at that point in time…”
S. Sinha, senior BSFI official, an international border expert :
An international border expert and senior BSFI official, S. Sinha, who knows and understands the boundary very well, presently working with United Nations (UN)’s peacekeeping force cited, “It is a fact that it was a dense foggy night and nobody could identify one other (that is, from minimum 1 to 2-metres), when the unfortunate incident happened in the late night of 7th January, 2011. On the other hand, the soldiers of one of the world’s elite and efficient force, who guarded the world’s largest border were in fix and so couldn’t identify, whether the persons, who were illegally crossing the international border with the help of ladders, were actually a teenaged girl (Felani) and her father (Nuru). They thought, it was the cattle smugglers, who were creating this noise, which was quite possible. Because, the particular international border areas are famous for cattle smuggling (known as – ‘illegal cattle corridor’). Even, a few days ago (that is, just before the incident), the BSFI soldiers were attacked with ethnic sharp weapons and were beaten black and blue by the cattle-smugglers.
This is why, the soldiers miscalculated the situation or matter and thought that the cattle smugglers were there and they might be cutting the IBWBF to transship their cattle and so they (BSFI soldiers) asked or shouted, ‘who are there?’ But, when they didn’t get any response and heard some loud conversations were going on and smugglers could attack them at any moment under the cover of darkness or fog, they fired on them (from around distances), without any delay. They did it for nothing but for self-defence. Perhaps the soldiers didn’t have any ‘Solartech Hand Held Search Light’ or ‘Dragon Light’ (which has been developed for the use of Defence Forces, Paramilitary Forces, Police, Forest Department, Customs, etcetera to guard and inspect at night time surveillance, patrolling and mobile search operations. Even, specially, for the places, where conventional electricity or other power source is not available or is scarce. It works or covers up to the distance around 100-metres) in their hand to see or detect the matter clearly…”
Incident of IBV Tarakpur of Sepahijala district of Tripura
The various officials of the Indian Police Forces of the Indian States, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Mizoram pointed out, “Yet, only BSFI may not be blame for it or these types of brutality cannot be done only by BSFI alone, BGB too do or follow it. The suitable example of this type of killing is – on 20th January, 2012, around 43-years-old Lutfur Rahaman, a BGB head-constable contravene into Indian territory and shot dead a unarmed civilian, 52-years-old peasant, Shah Alam Mian, who went to till his land at about 06:30 am at IBV – Tarakpur under Jatrapur Police Station in Sonamura Sub Division of Sepahijala district of Tripura along Indo-Bangla international boundary. After that, the armed BGB soldier tried to drag the body of the Indian farmer across the international boundary, with the help of others his colleagues (that is, BGB personnel) at that time, the incensed villagers of the IBV raised the voice, trounced BGB personnel (who killed the peasant), caught him red-handed and to avert the rest of the BGB personnel from doing so. Later, the detained BGB soldier was handed over to BSFI to take necessary action against him.
In this context, the inhabitants of the IBV Tarakpur emphasized, “Most of the time, the armed BGB personnel attacked and brutally tortured them without any cause, when they worked in their paddy field. Not only that even, the BGB personnel instigated their Bangladeshi IBV peoples to steal away their crops. So, the villagers of the Indian IBV demanded stringent action against the accused soldier as well as the all odds.”
However, “Next day, that is, on 21st January, 2012, after a commandant-level flag meeting was held between the two nations, near the incident place, but unfortunately it was inconclusive as the BGB personnel were pressurizing her counterpart BSFI for handing over their head-constable, Lutfar rahman to them. But, when the issue was reached to the Foreign Ministry level of the two nations and discussed, then after that 29-BN of BSFI handed over the accused BGB head-constable to the 33-BN of BGB of Comilla sector of Comilla district of Bangladesh. Though, the BGB personnel assured us to punish the erring soldier, but in this matter, the Government of India whatever had taken the decision to release the accused BGB personnel was in a larger interest of both states,” revealed Nepal Chandra Das, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) of Home Guards at Police Head Quarters, Agartala, West Tripura district, Tripura State of India.
Three Indian Labourers Killed, Five Seriously Injured in 2006
On 28th March, 2006, three Indian labourers were killed and five seriously injured, when Bangladesh Border Rifles (BDR) opened fire from across the international border at IBV – Kolshipara in Coochbehar district. The BDR opened fire upon the Indian labourers without any warning, while they were engaged themselves in a repairing works of a road that lies on the international border, near the Jhikabari IBOP under Kuchlibari Gram Panchayat (that is, Village Panchayet) area. As a result, one villager died on the spot, while another seven were seriously got injured, who were then sent to the West Bengal State Government hospital, namely – Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital that situated at district headquarter town of Jalpaiguri. The BSFI admitted the labourers in the hospital. Of the injured labourers, two were in very critical condition.
During a commandant-level flag meeting at Jhikabari, the BDR said that they objected to the road repairing works undertaken by the Indians, which was nothing but the violation of the international-border-guidelines. The BDR added that Indians couldn’t take such a ‘project’ or ‘work’ within 150-yard (that is, 137.160-metre)s of the international boundary,” revealed the BSFI (North Bengal Frontier) spokesman and Coochbehar District Superintendent of Police (SP), Jag Mohan.
Observation of Indian Army Officials
In contrast, it could be also mentioned here that apart from one of the Indian Army officials, who was posted during counter insurgency operations in the district areas as well as a local journalist of a vernacular newspaper, one of the dexterous officials of the Indian Assam State Government Home Department’s intelligence section, (who went to the Bhawlaguri village areas to enquire about Nuru and his entire family after the death of his daughter, Felani and asked Nurzamal Sheikh, who is a rag-picker and lives Tuniapara areas and interacted with Nuru) emphasized, “The area Bhawlaguri village of Tuniapar (that is, bank of the river – Tunia rivulet) under Dangtol POP of Bongaigaon district is a notorious den. Here, the identities of many peoples are kept under surveillance of Indian Intelligence agencies. Because, it is a hidden place of Bangladeshi nationals, who entered into India through porous international border in search of food-clothing-shelter, jobs, anti-social works, etcetera. You may call it a ‘Mini Bangladesh’ in Bongaigaon district or one of the ‘Mini Bangladeshes of the state of Assam.’ Nobody has the guts to go there.”
38-years-old house owner – Somesh Ali of Bhawlaguri village of Tuniapar, where Nuru and his entire family were staying, said, “It is a fact that that Nuru worked here as a rag-picker and was a sot or Ganja-khor (that is, habitual hemp-smoker). He also pulled rickshaws, when he didn’t get any work as a daily-labourer. Later, he took a small room-cum-shop (which comprised tea-cum-betel-leaf-cum-grocery things) in rent around (Indian) Rs. 1,500 from us.”
Pointing out the shop, 32-years-old Ajiran (Khatun) Biwi, the wife of house owner – Somesh Ali of Bhawlaguri village also disclosed, “Nuru and his wife Zahanara wanted that Felani should get married soon. But, before Nuru’s wife and children returned to their own nation (that is, Bangladesh, where they came from) permanently, Nuru’s wife vacated our room-cum-shop and sold the entire things of their shop to us.” (that is, after the death of their elder daughter-Felani)
Another interesting fact is that Nuru’s old friend, who is also from Bangladesh (village Kahamarer Gram, near Anantapur) and whose house is just a kilometre away from Nuru’s abode, said candidly, “He is basically a liar and addicted person. He doesn’t know what he says or what not. He tells different things at different times. There is no similarity between his words and his works and so couldn’t be trusted in any way. But, it is fact that his daughter had been killed during the time of crossing the international border. This was nothing but a brutal matter. But, it is also verity that he was my neighbour in the West Bengal State and there, we used to work together as a rag-picker and others. But, when the IWBSPF launched raid or operation to nab illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators in the West Bengal State, without getting no others way, we were shifted and settle down at neighbouring another Indian State, Assam’s Tuniapar area of Bongaigaon district, permanently. Here (in Assam State), we set up ourselves in small business to run our families smoothly…”
International Barbed Wire Border Fence issues :
Whatever might be the facts, it is also true that erection of IBWBF on the Indo-Bangla international border is a crucial issue for the people of both India and Bangladesh. The peoples of Bangladesh always said, “The erection of IBWBF on the international boundary will increase the activities of the IBSGs or International Border Security Force (IBSF)s on the international border. As a result, this increase of the movement and intervention of Indian para-military force and the International Border Security Force (IBSF) the people of Bangladesh can’t carry out their day-to-day duties easily. Further, it will hit upon the ‘social life’ of Bangladesh. Such as : ‘international cross border movement’ (especially, for education, medical, marriage purposes, and etcetera), ‘international cross border interactions of the communities’ in both sides to maintain relationships and ‘international cross border trade’ (which can’t go smoothly) for these particular international borderline areas.”
Moreover, in some places, the inhabitants residing in and around the international border areas may not belong to the same caste, creed, colour, community and religion, and they had many differences in their way of life but still at one point, they possessed the same view. It was their social, cultural, political, economic and demographic life. Physical appearance, custom to culture and language to religion, etcetera of the Bangladeshis and Indians (who have been residing on both sides of the international boundary) are almost analogous. Therefore, to mitigate the woe of their socio-economic life, they woo with people, whether they are Hindu or Muslim. To strengthen this bond of relation, they attend all festivals and ceremonies, whether they are of the Hindus or of the Muslims. Around 40 to 50 percent of people residing in the international border areas on both sides (though, Bangladeshis chiefly) truly want to engage themselves directly or indirectly with the social, cultural, political, economic and religious lives of peoples of the Indian mainland.
But the people of India didn’t like to agree to these points. They think that this kind of international border killing should not take place at all but IBWBF and the movement of IBSG’s soldiers are very necessary, otherwise several problems, such as, illegal movement for immigration for food, clothing, shelter, (cheap) labour and jobs, woman and girl child trafficking, arms and drugs trade, cattle, timber, rice, salt, kerosene-oil, electronics goods etcetera, smuggling, fanatic Pan-Islamic Religious Fundamental (PIRF) activities, anti-Indian activities and insurgency, cross international border robbery (crops, cattle and others), etcetera would occur unabatedly along this entire borderline.
Most of the peoples of India and Bangladesh IBVs are agriculturists, labours, petty businessmen, illegal trespassers, smugglers etcetera. Albeit, 60 to 70 percent of people, who are residing in the international border areas are not so, but, many of them are directly or indirectly involved with the anti-social activities like – rape, kidnapping, murder, looting and rioting. Therefore, to protect their own interests, they mostly depend on the anti-national and anti-social activities. They feel it is necessary for their life and living. It is also a fact that a lot of IBSG deputed or deployed to guard the international boundary-line areas intend to keep themselves engaged more with the thought of fishing up personal benefits than other essential duties. It is alleged that IBSF and BGB posted along the international borderline often get themselves involved in taking bribes. It happens when any kind of transactions are made, whether it is objects or livestock or human beings. The amount paid for each transaction is not the same. It varies from place to place, time-to-time and person-to-person.
However, due to heavy political pressure from the opposition (that is, BNP), AL led Bangladesh Government claimed that the incident of 7th January, 2011, was a ‘Violation of International Law,’ it was a ‘Severe breach of Human Rights’ and it ‘Exhibited nothing but a barbaric inhumanity.’ Similarly in this milieu, the then Indian National Congress (INC)-led India Government also had to face heavy political pressure from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, (known as – BJP), when BJP reminded them (INC) about the episodes of 20th January, 2012 and the bloody incident of 18th April, 2001, (when they were in power or government) that had happened at IBV-Boraibari (under Dhubri district of Indian State, Assam), where 16 BSFI soldier were brutally tortured and later killed (in cold blood) at the hands of the public, the BDR forces, Bangladesh Army, the cadres of BNP and the fanatic PIRF activists.
As a result of this, the then INC led India Government cited that the incidents of Tarakpur and Boraibari were also a – ‘Violation of International Law,’ ‘Severe breach of Human Rights’ and ‘Exhibited nothing but a barbaric inhumanity.’ Furthermore, neither at that time, nor after the incidents of Pyrdiwah & Boraibari episodes, Bangladesh Government had shown any initiative to arrest the culprits or had taken any steps to punish the culprits, who were found accused for brutal torture with culpable homicide of the 16 BSFI personnel.
Whatever might be the facts, the contentious statements of Nuru and eyewitnesses, false reporting and inappropriate documentation of security forces of both sides and blame games (socio-political) to each other put a bar to get proper and timely justice for Nuru. But, at the end of the day, the question is not who is right and who is wrong or who will get justice and who will not. The bottom-line is that the torture as well as the killing of a human being is a severe offence or crime and it is inhuman, so it is unjustified and unacceptable. It should be stopped immediately at any cost and the burning problems should be treated with patience and magnanimity.
Therefore, the only means to put an end to this type of particular international border killing is to issue ‘work permits’ to these poor and indigent people of Bangladesh, especially those, who live beside the international border areas. It is necessary (after the sunrise) to keep the ‘International Border Gate’ (IBG) and ‘International Border Check Post’ or ‘International Border Check Point’ (IBCP) open so that they can enter into India and work without any hindrance and humiliation and after they finish or complete their works, they may return (after the sunset) to their residence in Bangladesh. But, while doing, the Indian Government authority or administration should notice or observe that these people must not steal any opportunity to claim ‘citizenship’ of the land.
Also, the illegal international cross border trespassing or immigration and unlawful activities must be stopped (before it’s too late) otherwise, there may be more severe consequences in future, and another Felani may be victimized.
(Note – This particular report has been prepared on the basis of spot visits (during and after the incident), interviews with several eyewitnesses, socio-political-religious activists, citizens of India and Bangladesh, who are living in and around the international boundary, fact finding reports of the BSFI and IWBSPF, Government of India as well as the reports of the Government of Bangladesh and the Human Rights Organisation of Bangladesh – Odhikar, various Bangladesh newspapers and magazines, socio-political NGO – Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee (BBEECC) and local journalists of India and Bangladesh, etcetera.
Actual position of the International Border Village (IBV) – Khitaber Kuthi-Part-II (in map-47) of India
Actual position of the International Border Village (IBV)s of Bangladesh near Khitaber Kuthi-Part-II
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