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INDIA: Once again the BSF murder an innocent person

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-141-2011

12 August 2011
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INDIA: Once again the BSF murder an innocent person in West Bengal and denies responsibility

ISSUES: Murder; impunity; corruption; rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information concerning yet another case of coldblooded murder committed by the Border Security Force (BSF) operating along the Indo-Bangladesh border. MASUM, AHRC's partner organisation in West Bengal informs that the BSF shot Mr. Alamgir Seikh at a close range, after the BSF apprehended him by suspecting that Alamgir is involved in cross-border smuggling. The incident happened on 11 April, 2011, when Alamgir was in his farm. The BSF after shooting Alamgir, left him at the place where the incident took place thinking that Alamgir was dead. They did not report the incident to any authorities, as required in law. When the family came to know about the incident, they carried Alamgir across the border to Bangladesh to get him treated since they were afraid that the BSF or the local police would fabricate false cases against Alamgir to cover-up their culpability.

Additionally given the appalling lack of accessibility to quality public health services for the people living along the Indo-Bangladesh border within India, it makes sense for anyone injured in a place like Char Kuthibari to risk illegally crossing over to Bangladesh seeking medical assistance.

CASE NARRATIVE:

The victim in the case, Alamgir, is an agricultural labourer, who lived with his wife, Ms. Rubina Bewa and two children, Masum Seikh - aged five years, and Allas Seikh - aged three years. Alamgir's family is poor and lives below the poverty line. The family lives near the Indo-Bangladesh border.

The incident happened on 11 April 2011 at about 10pm. At the time, some cross-border cattle smugglers gathered near Cahr Kuthibari BSF camp, BSF Out-Post V and VI. The camp is under the command of Harudanga Company Head Quarters. The BSF officers from Out-Post V and VI noticing the smugglers' movement started chasing them. In the process they also apprehended Alamgir, and five to six other persons who were reportedly part of the smuggling gang.

Then the officers started beating one of the persons whom they had apprehended. The officers reportedly assaulted two of the persons with his rifle butt. Witnessing the horrendous nature of the assault, Alamgir tried to intervene, pleading to the officers to be merciful. It is reported that at this, the officers without warning shot Alamgir and left the body at the scene thinking that Alamgir was dead.

Later Alamgir's family came to know about the incident came to the place where Alamgir was left to be dead. They feared of being tortured by the BSF and in order to save the life of the victim, they sneaked into Bangladesh and with the assistance of some people they admitted Alamgir at Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital, Bangladesh at about 1am on 12 April where Alamgir was declared dead at about 3am on the same day.

On the same day, Mr. Sadek Ali, son of Rahman Seikh, one of Alamgir's relatives filed a written complaint before the Officer-in-Charge of Raninagar Police Station wherein he alleged that the BSF killed Alamgir. However the police did nothing upon the complaint and did not register the complaint. Subsequently on 15 April, Mr. Beraj Seikh, Alamgir's father went to Raninagar Police Station to see what action the police had taken upon the previous complaint of murder. The police compelled him to lodge a 'missing person' information concerning Alamgir if the family expected the police to take any action. The written complaint was registered as General Diary Entry at the Raninagar Police Station as GDE 728/11, dated 15 April 2011. On the same day, Beraj Seikh sent an application by fax to the Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh at Kolkata to get back the body of the victim. But the fax was not responded to.

Then Alamgir's wife filed a complaint on 18 April to the Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad detailing the incident with a prayer to take urgent steps to bring back the body of her husband from Bangladesh. On 22 April, MASUM issued a complaint in the matter. MASUM consistently reported and appealed to the Indian High Commission, Bangladesh High Commission, Ministry of Home Affairs - Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs - Government of India, the BSF, Border Guard Bangladesh, Ministry of Home Affairs Bangladesh, Ministry of External Affairs Bangladesh, West Bengal Police, the Superintendent of Police - Murshidabad, and all the concerned parties involved in the process with an intention to release the dead body from Bangladesh. However, all these attempts fell upon deaf ears and the body remained at Rahshahi Hospital morgue.

On 4 May a notice was served at the victim's residence through the Raninagar PS (SP DIB Memo Number 3495, dated 3/5/11) at about 2am concerning MASUM's request. On the next day Alamgir's wife, her three-year-old son, Alamgir's father and his elder brother went all the way from Murshidabad to MASUM's office in Howrah. A team from MASUM took them to meet senior officials of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission and the Officer of External Affairs Ministry at Kolkata to request the release of the body.

In the meanwhile Mr. Sader Ali, Enquiry Officer and IDO, Raninagar-II, Development Block conducted an enquiry concerning Alamgir's citizenship and residence. The officer submitted his report to the Sub-Divisional Officer, Domkal, Murshidabad. The report established that Alamgir is a citizen of India, having his permanent residence in India.

Accordingly the Bangladesh Border Guard asked from its counterpart in India, the BSF, that whether they will receive the body of the person who died at Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital, Bangladesh namely Alamgir of Raninagar police station? In reply, the BSF stated that there was no such person in Raninagar and hence they will not receive the dead body. Hence Alamgir's body continued to remain in Bangladesh.

In the meanwhile the Sub-Divisional Officer, Domkal, Murshidabad forwarded the enquiry report concerning Alamgir's nationality to the District Magistrate, Murshidabad with an enclosing letter vide Memo 768/en dated 18 April 2011. In the enclosing letter the Sub-Divisional Officer, Domkal, Murshidabad informed the District Magistrate, Murshidabad that the family members of the deceased victim was intimated by the Block Development Officer, Raninagar-II to take delivery of the mortal remains of the victim.

On 23 April the SPDIB, Murshidabad through message (subject-ZOE NR8483-8488 GR-200) informed the Officer-in-Charge of Raninagar Police Station; Police Inspector Domkal; Sub Divisional Police Officer Domkal; Inspector General BSF; Intelligence Bureau - West Bengal; District Magistrate Murshidabad; the Commandant, 91 Battalion, BSF, Roshawon Bagh, Lalbagh; Joint Secretary to the Government of West Bengal, Home (Foreign and NRI Division), Writers Building, Kolkata; that the mortal remains of the victim was received by an NGO Ain O Saiish Kendra (ASK) of Bangladesh from Rajshahi Medical College, Bangladesh to be handed over to the family members of the deceased victim on 24 April at Kaharpara border out post area at about 1200 hrs. In the message it was mentioned that repatriation of the mortal remains might be allowed to facilitate the family members of the deceased to receive the body for performing their religious rites. In the message it was also mentioned that Officer-in Charge, Raninagar Police Station will inform the nearest relative of the deceased to be present at Kaharpara border out post on 24 April by 10.00 hrs for the transportation of mortal remains and the Commandant, 91 Battalion, BSF, Roshawon Bagh, Lalbagh was requested to look into the matter and do the needful.

On the scheduled time, on 24 April by about 10.00 hrs the family members of the victim were came to the designated place and waited till evening. A few staff members from MASUM were also present. But the BSF and local police did not bring the body.

Later the victim's family received information that BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) refused to accept the body of the victim for transportation as it was informed by BSF that there was no person with the name and address as of the victim living in India. Shocked by the statement MASUM requested repeatedly to the authorities namely BDO, Raninagar-II Block, Deputy Magistrate of Sub Divisional Office, Domkal; the Officer-in-Charge of Raninagar Police Station, Mr. Avay Sah; Assistant Commandant, 91 Battalion, BSF who were present to receive the body to rectify the wrong information furnished by BSF to BGB. The Deputy Inspector General, BSF, Roshawon Bagh, Lalbagh was contacted over telephone several times and MASUM requested him to send fresh message to BGB confirming that the victim is an Indian citizen having his permanent residence in India. But MASUM's request was completely ignored. Finding that all the attempts were futile the family of the victim and MASUM returned from Kaharpara border out post. Several representatives from print and electronic media were present there and witnessed the apathy and inhuman attitude of the Indian system.

MASUM and Beraj Seikh, father of deceased Alamgir then moved a writ petition before the Calcutta High Court, WP 9263W/2011, seeking directions from the court to obtain the mortal remains of Alamgir from Bangladesh. On 24 June the writ petition came up for hearing before Justice Jayanta Kumar Biswas, and in the presence of the counsels of the petitioners and the state authorities (BSF, state government and the Government of India as respondents) the Court issued an order directing the respondents to take measures to return the body of the victim within seven days. On 13 July a copy of the letter addressed to the Additional District Magistrate, Murshidabad from the Office of the High Commission of India, Dhaka, Bangladesh was served upon Mr. Beraj Seikh.

On 14 July the Ministry of Home Affairs informed Mr. Kirity Roy, Secretary of MASUM that the Ministry has forwarded MASUM's complaint regarding the release of dead body of Alamgir to the BSF. They said that the matter was taken up by the BSF and enclosed the copy of the reply from the BSF vide letter No.42/ SB Ftr/ OPS(B)/10/ 9232 dated 11 July 2011. In their reply the BSF stated on 11 April some smugglers attacked the BSF when they were intercepted by the BSF. The BSF alleged that the smugglers attacked the BSF, and even fired at the BSF. The letter further averred that to save lives the BSF had to open fire at the smugglers with their Pump Action Gun in self-defence. The letter further averred that some BSF officers also sustained injuries in the altercation. The BSF further notified that no person was apprehended by them and nobody approached the BSF about anyone being injured on the day or having found missing. The BSF also stated that they have made arrangements to bring the mortal remains of Alamgir on 24 May and again on 31 May. They further averred that since none turned up from Bangladesh with the body. BSF said that allegations made by Mr. Kirity Roy, Secretary of MASUM is incorrect based on their investigation.

On 21 July Mr. Sader Ali, Enquiry Officer and IDO, Raninagar-II Block and four BSF officers came to Alamgir's house at about 10 am. Sader Ali asked Alamgir's father, Beraj Sheikh, to go to Bangladesh and collect his son's body. Disgusted and annoyed Beraj refused to agree. Then Sader Ali asked Beraj to appear at Kaharpara BSF Camp on 22 July at about 8am to receive his son's dead body. But when Beraj reached Kaharpara Camp, the Company Commander Mr. N.S. Negi; Sub-Inspector of Raninagar Police Station Mr. Ajay Pal; Mr. Soumen Mondal, Joint B.D.O. Raninagar-II and about four to five BSF Constables took Beraj along with his neighbours and relatives to the iron bridge located within a kilometre off Kharpara BSF Camp and asked Mr. Beraj Sheikh and Jahangir Sheikh Alamgir's elder brother to bring Alamgir's dead body from the international border point situated at about three kilometres from the iron bridge. Beraj and Jahangir informed the BSF that they were willing to go and collect the body with the help from Mr. Gopen Chandra Shamra and Julfikar Ali, District Human Rights Monitor of MASUM. But, as the authorities refused to give permission Beraj and Jahangir refused to take the dead body on that day.

On 22 July Beraj lodged a complaint through letter to the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police Berhampore, informing all these matters and also applied to obtain the death certificate and copy of Post Mortem Examination Report of Alamgir. He also applied for DNA Examination of the dead body of Alamgir and for an enquiry by the Judicial Magisterial concerning the incident.

On 23 July, the staff members from MASUM went to Murshidabad. They first visited the Berhampore Morgue where the Alamgir's body was kept. The condition was appalling at the morgue, where there are no adequate facilities to preserve the body. The employees at the morgue explained the appalling condition at the morgue where a dead body could not be preserved beyond a few hours due to the lack of facilities. Then the staff members met the Additional District Magistrate, Mr. Ulganathan. MASUM informed the officer that the BSF as well as the local authorities have thus far refused to issue a death certificate and post mortem report to the victim's family The officer assured that he would immediately complete the procedures and according to the law. On the next day on at about 10am the family received the dead body along with the death certificate and the post mortem examination report. And finally they were able to perform the religious rights for Alamgir, after four months after his murder.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The circumstances that led to Alamgir's death is typical of the BSF operating along the Indo-Bangladesh border. The bureaucracy of the Indian administrative setup, appalling in its very nature as demonstrated in this case, is also condemnable. But what is more evident is the manner in which the BSF is trying to play hide and seek once the murder was exposed and questions were raised, even to the extend that it went to the court and there was a directive from the court, that the BSF were forced to comply, demonstrably with lot of hesitance.

This is not the first case that the MASUM documented and the AHRC has reported through its Urgent Appeals Programme, where innocent persons were murdered along the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal by the BSF. In the past eight years the MASUM has reported more than more than 150 cases from West Bengal where the BSF has shot persons without any reason, and later accused them as cross-border smugglers who were killed in an encounter. In each case, there is a pattern observed by the MASUM and the AHRC in the manner in which the BSF tries to escape from their responsibility and accountability of being held for committing cold-blooded murder.

They are as follows:
1. A person is shot dead by the BSF, often at night or after sunset and before sunrise;
2. In most cases the victim is a farmer engaged in cultivation or attending to the cattle, and in some cases minor shepherd boys tending to their stock near the border;
3. A fabricated complaint is filed at the local police station accusing the deceased victim that the victim tried to attack the armed BSF with a stick or a sickle and that the BSF had to fire upon the person to protect the officers from the murderous assault;
4. The police make use of this fabricated complaint as an excuse not to act upon the complaint filed by the relatives of the victims against the BSF, which is patently illegal by the police;
5. The BSF denies every allegation and issues, sometimes, a press statement justifying their action and accusing the victim as a cross-border smuggler.

The only difference in this case is that the BSF did not file a false complaint at the police station accusing the deceased as a person who tried to attack the BSF when they tried to stop the smugglers from crossing the international border. In none of the cases the police have taken any timely action against the BSF.

It is appalling and shameful that the BSF, with direct and indirect support from the local police and the local administration, did everything to delay the recovery of the body from Bangladesh. It is a shame that a citizen had to sneak across the border to receive treatment for the injuries that he suffered from his own security forces. It is an orchestrated travesty of the rule of law, for the premiere border security agency of the country enjoys such levels of impunity in the country and despite of a convincing number of cases being reported internationally, nothing has been done to bring down this negation of laws and procedures by the BSF. To say the least, it is a shame on what India projects itself and upon the authority of its institutions that guarantee the rule of law.

The case at hand raises important questions:

1. Why did not the BSF so far report to the local authorities about the firing incident, as they allege it has happened on 11 April 2011?
2. Why did not the BSF enquire whether there were anyone injured in the incident and whether they require medical treatment, irrespective of their nationality and the nature of their business in the area at the time?
3. What authorises the BSF to communicate to a non-Indian entity like the Border Guard Bangladesh about the nationality of a person?
4. What procedures have they followed before making such a communication?
5. What prevented the BSF from complying with the court order at the first instance?
6. What actions would the police take upon the complaint filed by the deceased's father?
7. What law prevents the local police from investigating a case of murder by the BSF?
8. What other evidence is there to determine how the incident happened? Now that there are two versions of the incident, one by the victim's family and the other by the BSF, which authority in India is empowered to decide upon this and if there is an authority based on what evidence?
9. What ousts the authority of the civilian administration, including the local police and the civilian courts upon the crimes committed by the BSF?
10. The procedure prescribed under the BSF Act 1968 and BSF Rules 1969 only prevents a civilian investigation concerning acts committed during an operation engagement. Chapter V and VI of the Act does not oust the jurisdiction of a civilian authority upon a person employed by the BSF.
11. Will there be an impartial investigation of the case and trial in an open court as required under the law in India?
12. If there is such an investigation, will the BSF officers accused in the complaint filed by the father of the victim, arrested by their commanding officer and handed over to the local police?

Lastly, the AHRC and MASUM also wishes to inform that the National Human Rights Commission - which was appealed by way of a complaint filed by MASUM vide letter dated 22 April 2011 - has not acted upon the complaint and or even acknowledged the receipt of the complaint concerning this case. For this reason, we feel that there is no point addressing the Commission further on this case.

The AHRC hope that the UN Rapporteur's office will take note of this approach of the National Human Rights Commission of India and would request the Commission, to entertain not to ignore, complaints of human rights violations filed before it.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please send a letter immediately to the authorities named below expressing your concern in this case

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions calling for an intervention in the case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

INDIA: The murder of an innocent person by the BSF must be investigated

Name of victim: Mr. Alamgir Seikh (deceased), son of Mr. Beraj Seikh aged about-28 years, formerly resident of Char Basgara village, Raninagar police station, Murshidabad district, West Bengal, India
Alleged perpetrators: 15 to 16 Border Security Force officers posted on duty on 11 April 2011 at border out post numbers V and VI under Harudanga BSF Company Head Quarters, under Battalion No.- 91, Police Station-Raninagar, District-Murshidabad, West Bengal
Date of incident: 11 April 2011 at about 11 pm
Place of incident: In between the BSF Out-Post numbers V and VI under Harudanga BSF Company Head Quarters, near Kuthibari BSF Mini Camp, Raninagar Police Station, Murshidabad District

I am writing to express my concern about the murder of the victim in the case, Alamgir, an agricultural labourer, who lived with his wife, Ms. Rubina Bewa and two children, Masum Seikh - aged five years, and Allas Seikh - aged three years by the officers of the Border Security Force (BSF) on 11 April 2011.

Alamgir's family is poor and lives below the poverty line. The family lives near the Indo-Bangladesh border.

I am informed that the incident happened on 11 April 2011 at about 10pm. At the time, some cross-border cattle smugglers gathered near Cahr Kuthibari BSF camp, BSF Out-Post V and VI. The camp is under the command of Harudanga Company Head Quarters. The BSF officers from Out-Post V and VI noticing the smugglers' movement started chasing them. In the process they also apprehended Alamgir, and five to six other persons who were reportedly part of the smuggling gang.

It is reported that then the officers started beating one of the persons whom they had apprehended. The officers reportedly assaulted two of the persons with his rifle butt. Witnessing the horrendous nature of the assault, Alamgir tried to intervene, pleading to the officers to be merciful. It is reported that at this, the officers without warning shot Alamgir and left the body at the scene thinking that Alamgir was dead.

Later Alamgir's family came to know about the incident came to the place where Alamgir was left to be dead. They feared of being tortured by the BSF and in order to save the life of the victim, they sneaked into Bangladesh and with the assistance of some people they admitted Alamgir at Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital, Bangladesh at about 1am on 12 April where Alamgir was declared dead at about 3am on the same day.

On the same day, Mr. Sadek Ali, son of Rahman Seikh, one of Alamgir's relatives filed a written complaint before the Officer-in-Charge of Raninagar Police Station wherein he alleged that the BSF killed Alamgir. However the police did nothing upon the complaint and did not register the complaint. Subsequently on 15 April, Mr. Beraj Seikh, Alamgir's father went to Raninagar Police Station to see what action the police had taken upon the previous complaint of murder. The police compelled him to lodge a 'missing person' information concerning Alamgir if the family expected the police to take any action. The written complaint was registered as General Diary Entry at the Raninagar Police Station as GDE 728/11, dated 15 April 2011. On the same day, Beraj Seikh sent an application by fax to the Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh at Kolkata to get back the body of the victim. But the fax was not responded to.

I am informed that then Alamgir's wife filed a complaint on 18 April to the Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad detailing the incident with a prayer to take urgent steps to bring back the body of her husband from Bangladesh. On 22 April, MASUM issued a complaint in the matter. MASUM consistently reported and appealed to the Indian High Commission, Bangladesh High Commission, Ministry of Home Affairs - Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs - Government of India, the BSF, Border Guard Bangladesh, Ministry of Home Affairs Bangladesh, Ministry of External Affairs Bangladesh, West Bengal Police, the Superintendent of Police - Murshidabad, and all the concerned parties involved in the process with an intention to release the dead body from Bangladesh. However, all these attempts fell upon deaf ears and the body remained at Rahshahi Hospital morgue.

On 4 May a notice was served at the victim's residence through the Raninagar PS (SP DIB Memo Number 3495, dated 3/5/11) at about 2am concerning MASUM's request. On the next day Alamgir's wife, her three-year-old son, Alamgir's father and his elder brother went all the way from Murshidabad to MASUM's office in Howrah. A team from MASUM took them to meet senior officials of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission and the Officer of External Affairs Ministry at Kolkata to request the release of the body.

In the meanwhile Mr. Sader Ali, Enquiry Officer and IDO, Raninagar-II, Development Block conducted an enquiry concerning Alamgir's citizenship and residence. The officer submitted his report to the Sub-Divisional Officer, Domkal, Murshidabad. The report established that Alamgir is a citizen of India, having his permanent residence in India.

Accordingly the Bangladesh Border Guard asked from its counterpart in India, the BSF, that whether they will receive the body of the person who died at Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital, Bangladesh namely Alamgir of Raninagar police station? In reply, the BSF stated that there was no such person in Raninagar and hence they will not receive the dead body. Hence Alamgir's body continued to remain in Bangladesh.

In the meanwhile the Sub-Divisional Officer, Domkal, Murshidabad forwarded the enquiry report concerning Alamgir's nationality to the District Magistrate, Murshidabad with an enclosing letter vide Memo 768/en dated 18 April 2011. In the enclosing letter the Sub-Divisional Officer, Domkal, Murshidabad informed the District Magistrate, Murshidabad that the family members of the deceased victim was intimated by the Block Development Officer, Raninagar-II to take delivery of the mortal remains of the victim.

On 23 April the SPDIB, Murshidabad through message (subject-ZOE NR8483-8488 GR-200) informed the Officer-in-Charge of Raninagar Police Station; Police Inspector Domkal; Sub Divisional Police Officer Domkal; Inspector General BSF; Intelligence Bureau - West Bengal; District Magistrate Murshidabad; the Commandant, 91 Battalion, BSF, Roshawon Bagh, Lalbagh; Joint Secretary to the Government of West Bengal, Home (Foreign and NRI Division), Writers Building, Kolkata; that the mortal remains of the victim was received by an NGO Ain O Saiish Kendra (ASK) of Bangladesh from Rajshahi Medical College, Bangladesh to be handed over to the family members of the deceased victim on 24 April at Kaharpara border out post area at about 1200 hrs. In the message it was mentioned that repatriation of the mortal remains might be allowed to facilitate the family members of the deceased to receive the body for performing their religious rites. In the message it was also mentioned that Officer-in Charge, Raninagar Police Station will inform the nearest relative of the deceased to be present at Kaharpara border out post on 24 April by 10.00 hrs for the transportation of mortal remains and the Commandant, 91 Battalion, BSF, Roshawon Bagh, Lalbagh was requested to look into the matter and do the needful.

On the scheduled time, on 24 April by about 10.00 hrs the family members of the victim were came to the designated place and waited till evening. A few staff members from MASUM were also present. But the BSF and local police did not bring the body.

Later the victim's family received information that BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) refused to accept the body of the victim for transportation as it was informed by BSF that there was no person with the name and address as of the victim living in India. Shocked by the statement MASUM requested repeatedly to the authorities namely BDO, Raninagar-II Block, Deputy Magistrate of Sub Divisional Office, Domkal; the Officer-in-Charge of Raninagar Police Station, Mr. Avay Sah; Assistant Commandant, 91 Battalion, BSF who were present to receive the body to rectify the wrong information furnished by BSF to BGB. The Deputy Inspector General, BSF, Roshawon Bagh, Lalbagh was contacted over telephone several times and MASUM requested him to send fresh message to BGB confirming that the victim is an Indian citizen having his permanent residence in India. But MASUM's request was completely ignored. Finding that all the attempts were futile the family of the victim and MASUM returned from Kaharpara border out post. Several representatives from print and electronic media were present there and witnessed the apathy and inhuman attitude of the Indian system.

MASUM and Beraj Seikh, father of deceased Alamgir then moved a writ petition before the Calcutta High Court, WP 9263W/2011, seeking directions from the court to obtain the mortal remains of Alamgir from Bangladesh. On 24 June the writ petition came up for hearing before Justice Jayanta Kumar Biswas, and in the presence of the counsels of the petitioners and the state authorities (BSF, state government and the Government of India as respondents) the Court issued an order directing the respondents to take measures to return the body of the victim within seven days. On 13 July a copy of the letter addressed to the Additional District Magistrate, Murshidabad from the Office of the High Commission of India, Dhaka, Bangladesh was served upon Mr. Beraj Seikh.

On 14 July the Ministry of Home Affairs informed Mr. Kirity Roy, Secretary of MASUM that the Ministry has forwarded MASUM's complaint regarding the release of dead body of Alamgir to the BSF. They said that the matter was taken up by the BSF and enclosed the copy of the reply from the BSF vide letter No.42/ SB Ftr/ OPS(B)/10/ 9232 dated 11 July 2011. In their reply the BSF stated on 11 April some smugglers attacked the BSF when they were intercepted by the BSF. The BSF alleged that the smugglers attacked the BSF, and even fired at the BSF. The letter further averred that to save lives the BSF had to open fire at the smugglers with their Pump Action Gun in self-defence. The letter further averred that some BSF officers also sustained injuries in the altercation. The BSF further notified that no person was apprehended by them and nobody approached the BSF about anyone being injured on the day or having found missing. The BSF also stated that they have made arrangements to bring the mortal remains of Alamgir on 24 May and again on 31 May. They further averred that since none turned up from Bangladesh with the body. BSF said that allegations made by Mr. Kirity Roy, Secretary of MASUM is incorrect based on their investigation.

On 21 July Mr. Sader Ali, Enquiry Officer and IDO, Raninagar-II Block and four BSF officers came to Alamgir's house at about 10 am. Sader Ali asked Alamgir's father, Beraj Sheikh, to go to Bangladesh and collect his son's body. Disgusted and annoyed Beraj refused to agree. Then Sader Ali asked Beraj to appear at Kaharpara BSF Camp on 22 July at about 8am to receive his son's dead body. But when Beraj reached Kaharpara Camp, the Company Commander Mr. N.S. Negi; Sub-Inspector of Raninagar Police Station Mr. Ajay Pal; Mr. Soumen Mondal, Joint B.D.O. Raninagar-II and about four to five BSF Constables took Beraj along with his neighbours and relatives to the iron bridge located within a kilometre off Kharpara BSF Camp and asked Mr. Beraj Sheikh and Jahangir Sheikh Alamgir's elder brother to bring Alamgir's dead body from the international border point situated at about three kilometres from the iron bridge. Beraj and Jahangir informed the BSF that they were willing to go and collect the body with the help from Mr. Gopen Chandra Shamra and Julfikar Ali, District Human Rights Monitor of MASUM. But as the authorities refused to give permission Beraj and Jahangir refused to take the dead body on that day.

On 22 July Beraj lodged a complaint through letter to the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police Berhampore, informing all these matters and also applied to obtain the death certificate and copy of Post Mortem Examination Report of Alamgir. He also applied for DNA Examination of the dead body of Alamgir and for an enquiry by the Judicial Magisterial concerning the incident.

On 23 July, the staff members from MASUM went to Murshidabad. They first visited the Berhampore Morgue where the Alamgir's body was kept. The condition was appalling at the morgue, where there are no adequate facilities to preserve the body. The employees at the morgue explained the appalling condition at the morgue where a dead body could not be preserved beyond a few hours due to the lack of facilities. Then the staff members met the Additional District Magistrate, Mr. Ulganathan. MASUM informed the officer that the BSF as well as the local authorities have thus far refused to issue a death certificate and post mortem report to the victim's family The officer assured that he would immediately complete the procedures and according to the law. On the next day on at about 10am the family received the dead body along with the death certificate and the post mortem examination report. And finally they were able to perform the religious rights for Alamgir, after four months after his murder.

I am informed that the circumstances that led to Alamgir's death is typical of the BSF operating along the Indo-Bangladesh border. The bureaucracy of the Indian administrative setup, appalling in its very nature as demonstrated in this case, is also condemnable. But what is more evident is the manner in which the BSF is trying to play hide and seek once the murder was exposed and questions were raised, even to the extend that it went to the court and there was a directive from the court, that the BSF were forced to comply, demonstrably with lot of hesitance.

I am informed that this is not the first case that the MASUM documented and the AHRC has reported through its Urgent Appeals Programme, where innocent persons were murdered along the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal by the BSF. I am informed that in the past eight years the MASUM has reported more than more than 150 cases from West Bengal where the BSF has shot persons without any reason, and later accused them as cross-border smugglers who were killed in an encounter. The AHRC and MASUM reports that in each case, there is a pattern observed by the MASUM and the AHRC in the manner in which the BSF tries to escape from their responsibility and accountability of being held for committing cold-blooded murder.

They are as follows:
1. A person is shot dead by the BSF, often at night or after sunset and before sunrise;
2. In most cases the victim is a farmer engaged in cultivation or attending to the cattle, and in some cases minor shepherd boys tending to their stock near the border;
3. A fabricated complaint is filed at the local police station accusing the deceased victim that the victim tried to attack the armed BSF with a stick or a sickle and that the BSF had to fire upon the person to protect the officers from the murderous assault;
4. The police make use of this fabricated complaint as an excuse not to act upon the complaint filed by the relatives of the victims against the BSF, which is patently illegal by the police;
5. The BSF denies every allegation and issues, sometimes, a press statement justifying their action and accusing the victim as a cross-border smuggler.

The only difference in this case is that the BSF did not file a false complaint at the police station accusing the deceased as a person who tried to attack the BSF when they tried to stop the smugglers from crossing the international border. In none of the cases the police have taken any timely action against the BSF.

It is appalling and shameful that the BSF, with direct and indirect support from the local police and the local administration, did everything to delay the recovery of the body from Bangladesh. It is a shame that a citizen had to sneak across the border to receive treatment for the injuries that he suffered from his own security forces. It is an orchestrated travesty of the rule of law, for the premiere border security agency of the country enjoys such levels of impunity in the country and despite of a convincing number of cases being reported internationally, nothing has been done to bring down this negation of laws and procedures by the BSF. To say the least, it is a shame on what India projects itself and upon the authority of its institutions that guarantee the rule of law.

Lastly, I am informed that MASUM informed the National Human Rights Commission - which was appealed by way of a complaint filed by MASUM vide letter dated 22 April 2011 - has not acted upon the complaint and or even acknowledged the receipt of the complaint concerning this case. For this reason, I endorse the opinion expressed by the AHRC and MASUM that there is no point addressing the Commission further on this case.

I hope and further request that the UN Rapporteur's office will take note of this approach of the National Human Rights Commission of India and would request the Commission, to entertain not to ignore, complaints of human rights violations filed before it.

To summarise, the case at hand raises important questions:

1. Why did not the BSF so far report to the local authorities about the firing incident, as they allege it has happened on 11 April 2011?
2. Why did not the BSF enquire whether there were anyone injured in the incident and whether they require medical treatment, irrespective of their nationality and the nature of their business in the area at the time?
3. What authorises the BSF to communicate to a non-Indian entity like the Border Guard Bangladesh about the nationality of a person?
4. What procedures have they followed before making such a communication?
5. What prevented the BSF from complying with the court order at the first instance?
6. What actions would the police take upon the complaint filed by the deceased's father?
7. What law prevents the local police from investigating a case of murder by the BSF?
8. What other evidence is there to determine how the incident happened? Now that there are two versions of the incident, one by the victim's family and the other by the BSF, which authority in India is empowered to decide upon this and if there is an authority based on what evidence?
9. What ousts the authority of the civilian administration, including the local police and the civilian courts upon the crimes committed by the BSF?
10. The procedure prescribed under the BSF Act 1968 and BSF Rules 1969 only prevents a civilian investigation concerning acts committed during an operation engagement. Chapter V and VI of the Act does not oust the jurisdiction of a civilian authority upon a person employed by the BSF.

For the above reasons and grounds, I request you to ensure that:

1. An impartial investigation of the case and trial in an open court as required under the law in India;
2. If the investigation reveals the crime, as alleged by the victim's family, the BSF officers accused in the complaint filed by the father of the victim, be arrested by their commanding officer and handed over to the local police for prosecution;
3. Above all I request that your office will respect the victim's families right to be informed about the reason for Alamgir's death and about those who are responsible for it and therefore ensure that all necessary actions to respect this right will be taken.

Yours sincerely,

----------------
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Chief Minister
Government of West Bengal
Writers' Buildings, Kolkata - 700 001
West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: +91 33 2214 5480 / 2214 1341

2. Chief Secretary
Government of West Bengal
Writers' Buildings, Kolkata - 700001
West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: +91 33 2214 4328

3. Home Secretary
Government of West Bengal
Writers' Buildings, Kolkata - 700001
West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: +91 33 22143001

4. Director General & Inspector General of Police
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings, Kolkata-1
West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: +91 33 2214 4498 / 2214 5486

5. Home Minister
Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
North Block, New Delhi 110003
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 23093750 / 23092763

6. Director General BSF
Block 10, CGO Complex
Lodhi Road, New Delhi -03
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 24360016
E-mail: bsfhq@hub.nic.in


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (


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