Waking up in the morning to read newspapers is a long-standing habit. Today online has joined with printed paper. I looked at all three printed papers, including Samakal, and looked online again. So the morning sun started to rise while reading the newspaper.
Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is on a visit to India. As usual, I picked up the newspaper in the morning and found out that the two countries have agreed to reduce the killings on the Bangladesh-India border. The joint statement of the prime ministers of the two countries said that the two countries have agreed to work together to reduce border killings to zero.
News of a reduction in border killings naturally raised optimism. But it didn’t take long to be disappointed. After putting down the printed newspaper and keeping an eye on the internet, it was learned that a Bangladeshi named Minhaj (19) was killed by the Indian Border Guard Force (BSF) on the Dainur border of Dinajpur. Two more Bangladeshis are missing in this incident. Samakal’s online news also said that the deceased Minhaj is the son of Jahangir Hossain of Bhitarpara area of Askarpur Union No. 9 of Sadar Upazila. The two missing persons are Emdadul (28) son of Latiful Islam and Salman’s son Sagar (20) of Khanpur area of the same union. This incident happened on Wednesday. That means, this border killing happened at a time when the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is still staying in India. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh and India made a joint statement about reducing border killings just a day ago; There, Minhaj’s death reveals the opposite picture of the decision at the top level.
Bangladesh-India are close neighbors. During the liberation war, the country provided shelter, training, war aid to the people of Bangladesh. 3 thousand 900 Indian soldiers were killed in Bangladesh’s freedom struggle. The people of Bangladesh are grateful to the neighboring friendly country. But after 50 years of independence, we are still ambivalent about what kind of face the friendly country will present before us. Such killings on the border of two independent countries without a state of war are rare in the world.
Felani is the biggest example of killing on Bangladesh-India border. On January 7, 2011, Felani was killed in BSF firing at the Anantapur border in Phulbari, Kurigram. Felani’s body hung on the barbed wire fence for at least five hours. The body of the teenager Felani hanging on the barbed wire was discussed in the media of the country and abroad. It was then demanded that Felani be the last killing on the border. But in reality it did not happen.
A few facts can be brought forward to understand the picture of killings on the Bangladesh-India border: According to the human rights organization Law and Arbitration Center (ASAC), 522 Bangladeshis died in firing or torture by the BSF in the 11 years from 2009 to 2020. If this calculation is taken from the year 2000, it can be seen that from 2000 to 2020, 1 thousand 185 Bangladeshis have died in the hands of BSF. BSF killed eight Bangladeshis in the seven months till July this year. Among them, six people were shot dead. Four people were injured this time. Seven people were abducted. Before this, a total of 19 Bangladeshis were killed in 2021. 16 of them were shot dead. 49 people were killed in 2020. Among them, 42 people were shot dead.
Demands from Bangladesh to stop border killings have been repeatedly ignored. BSF Director General Pankaj Kumar Singh came to Dhaka to attend the border conference in July this year (July 17-21). He said on the occasion, ‘All the shootings in the border area happen at night and the casualties are all criminals.’ Hopefully, the BSF chief has not forgotten that Kishori Felani died on this border. We do not yet know of any evidence that Felani was a criminal. Ironically, even after the BSF chief’s meeting, two Bangladeshis were killed on the Bangladesh-India border. On August 24, a Bangladeshi named Abdus Salam was beaten to death at Amarkhana border in Panchagarh. On August 31 another person named Vedu was killed in BSF firing at Shingnagar border in Chapainawabganj.
China also shares a border with India. Even though there is a state of war, firing is not allowed. Again, India’s border dispute with Pakistan led to a war between the two countries. But there is no shooting of civilians. Many European countries share borders with their neighbors. It is only on the Bangladesh-India border that civilians have to accept the fate of death. If the number of deaths in non-combat by neighboring countries increases like this, the trade and security zone that has been talked about for a long time in this region will be disrupted. Therefore, first of all, we must take initiative to stop border killing. And this initiative should come from neighboring India.