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Friday, January 20, 2012
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Torture for mobile, torchlight, Rs 1,000

Cattle smuggler tells The Daily Star of the abuse by BSF men

The footage of BSF men torturing a Bangladeshi who has been identified as Habibur Rahman, inset, of Shibganj, Chapainawabganj. Photo: TV GRAB and STAR

Not having a mobile phone, torchlight and a thousand rupees as bribe almost cost the life of a Bangladeshi who was caught on camera while being tortured by Indian border guards.

Stripping him, the jawans of Border Security Force (BSF) tied his hands and legs and beat him up before dumping his unconscious body in a mustard field near Raninagar camp in Paschimbanga’s Murshidabad district.

"When I opened my eyes, I was not sure if I was alive. I lay in the mustard field for a while to pull myself together. Though I was unable to move due to the excessive beating, I forced myself to get up and headed towards home," the victim said.

He estimated that he was about five to seven kilometres inside Indian territory.

Habibur Rahman, 22, son of Saidur Rahman of Sateroroshia village under Shibganj upazila of Chapainawabganj, used to smuggle cattle from India. He had never been caught by the BSF in his one-year stint as a smuggler until December 9 last year, the day he experienced his worst nightmare.

The video footage of the BSF torture that had been aired by different television channels in India, including NDTV, sent shock waves across the nation.

The Daily Star yesterday interviewed Habibur at Monakosha border outpost in Chapainawabganj.

On the morning of December 9, 10-12 men, including Habibur, sneaked into Murshidabad district through Khanpur border in Paba upazila of Rajshahi to fetch some cattle as instructed by a Bangladeshi trader.

"We found no cattle when we reached the rendezvous point. So, we started back for home," said Habibur, adding that it was around 11:00pm when the BSF men caught him with two others.

"They demanded Rs 1,000, a mobile phone and torchlight from me. As I said I did not have those, they started kicking and punching me. But that was only the trailer of what was to happen next. They took me to their camp at Raninagar on a tractor," he said.

Habibur was wearing a lungi, a pink shirt and a jacket.

"The real beating began the next morning," said Habibur, "Two jawans stripped me, tied my hands at the back and to a stick. They also tied my legs. Then they started to beat me with a stick." Habibur still was in shock as he described the BSF brutality.

"As I fell on the ground, three of them indulged in beating me up indiscriminately," said Habibur, failing to hold back his tears.

The video footage of the Indian TV channels and on the website matches the description of the victim.

"At one point, one of them sat on my abdomen and held my feet up while another hit me on the bare sole with a stick. The torture continued for at least an hour," he said, adding that the jawans then dragged him a few yards, pulled him up and asked him to walk on his own.

"But I blacked out and fell down. A few hours later, I found myself lying in a mustard field," the victim said.

He showed the marks of injuries on his face, hands, legs and back.

On his return, Habibur did not dare go to a hospital out of fear of more ordeals. He chose traditional treatment instead.

About his former profession, Habibur said each cattle smuggler got Tk 1,000 for bringing a pair of cattle and one could bring up to six cows on each trip.

Pointing out that the chances of cattle smugglers getting caught were high, he said BSF men let them go in exchange of bribes.

After reports were published in different newspapers and aired on television channels, BGB officials also met the victim yesterday.

“We tracked him at his home in Sateroroshia village,” Lt Col Jahangir Hossain, commanding officer of 39 BGB Battalion in Chapainawabganj, told The Daily Star.

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It's brutal and inhuman. BSF suspended those 8 boarder guards. It's not enough more strict punishment should be taken on those lame soldiers. And news must not show details of that victim. Please remove victim's picture (inset). Don't burn his life and privacy.

: prince_rulze

Thousands of people died along the border just because there is no legal way of importing cattle from India. We need to end this monopoly in order to save peoples lives. The BSF should focus more on those who smuggle drugs into Bangladesh.

: Zabi


  • Anonymous
    Friday, January 20, 2012 12:34 AM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    Why do you worry. This was a friendly beating because both India and Bangladesh are close friends.

  • Uma Saha
    Friday, January 20, 2012 12:51 AM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    That was a friendly patting. It's the price for good, friendly and neighborly relationship.

  • Dev Saha
    Friday, January 20, 2012 02:24 AM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    Pretty horrific to see this man being tortured while other smugglers were left alone. It his high time to have organised and legal trades between the countries than this mouse and cat business.

  • Udayan
    Friday, January 20, 2012 10:19 AM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    As an Indian I feel ashamed that my country's armed forces engaged in such gross violation of human rights contrary to all the principles on which our nation and constitution is based. In a civilised society, there is no place for such savages.

  • Md. Ismile
    Friday, January 20, 2012 11:52 AM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    The whole incident, like the Felani incident is widely condemned by one and all across nations. We have always been emphasising that BGB and the Law enforcers posted inside Bangladesh border areas have a major role to protect its own citizen by preventing them from illegally trafficking, stealing and smuggling contraband across India. We feel ashamed of repeatedly hearing such words like 'Bangladeshi smugglers, cattle lifters and human traffickers' in international media.

  • Raj
    Friday, January 20, 2012 02:58 PM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    While the beating was not warranted, I don't have much sympathy for this smuggler because he committed a crime and he deserves to be punished properly. But I do feel disgusted that this smuggler was sent away free without any criminal trial by the BSF and they are taking bribes to allow anybody to cross the border unquestioned. Criminals would find this a prime highway into India and the soldiers who are supposed to protect Indians are playing games and acting like barbarians. The BSF soldiers clearly have no officers commanding them otherwise this kind of circus wouldn't have taken place. Most of the BSF deployed along the Pakistan border have officers to keep them in line and maintain discipline but on the Bangla border, it is seen as a vacation for these soldiers after the stressful deployment in other areas. It is time more officers are recruited into the BSF for proper supervision.

  • Anonymous
    Friday, January 20, 2012 11:42 AM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    Nothing like Indian brotherhood. Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League has done Bangladesh proud. Well done. Time to get another honorary doctorate.

  • engr.abdul gafur
    Friday, January 20, 2012 08:54 AM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    Give bribe for safe way otherwise torture.

  • Himel Khan
    Friday, January 20, 2012 12:37 AM GMT+06:00 (212 weeks ago)

    Stop! India stop your barbarism!





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