• Friday, December 19, 2014

Freedom in the air

BSF apologises, compensates

Victim hopes for end to border atrocities

Star Report
Photo: TV grab
Photo: TV grab

The Indian Border Security Force (BSF) yesterday handed over a cheque of Rs 50,000 as compensation to Bangladeshi national Habibur Rahman for torturing him brutally in Murshidabad district of West Bengal more than two years ago.
The BSF also apologised for the gruesome torture and stripping of Habibur, which had triggered widespread anger at home and abroad, with rights bodies demanding prosecution of the guilty BSF members.
The 22-year-old victim is from Satrasia village in Shibganj upazila of Chapainawabganj.

On December 9, 2011, eight armed uniformed soldiers of the BSF's 105th battalion picked up cattle trader Habibur in Murshidabad and tortured him for two days for allegedly refusing to pay them a bribe.
A YouTube video exposed the torture of the youth by the BSF men.
The video, reportedly filmed by a BSF soldier, showed Indian border guards pushing the victim to the ground with his hands and legs tied. Three to four men stripped Habibur of his clothes, beat him up with sticks and bamboos and hurled abuse at him.
Habibur was left unconscious in no-man's land between the two countries. Later local Bangladeshis rescued him.
The video clip was aired on some Indian TV channels, including NDTV, on January 18, 2012. The following day, eight BSF jawans were suspended.
Yesterday, Deputy Commandant Johar Ronaldo of 130 Katlamari BSF Battalion handed over the cheque to Habibur during a flag meeting with the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) near Khanpur border outpost under Poba upazila of Rajshahi around 11:45am, reports our Rajshahi correspondent.

BSF Katlamari Deputy Commander Johar Ronaldo hands over a cheque of Rs 50,000 to torture victim Habibur Rahman during a flag meeting near Khanpur BGB outpost in Rajshahi yesterday. Photo: Courtesy
BSF Katlamari Deputy Commander Johar Ronaldo hands over a cheque of Rs 50,000 to torture victim Habibur Rahman during a flag meeting near Khanpur BGB outpost in Rajshahi yesterday. Photo: Courtesy

The one-hour flag meeting was held at a place between border pillars 163 and 163/1 inside Bangladesh territory following a proposal from the Indian side, said Lt Col Mohammad Nazim Khan, director of 37 BGB Battalion, who led the BGB team at the meeting.
“We are sorry [about the incident]. Such an incident along the India-Bangladesh border is unacceptable,” Nazim quoted Johar as saying.
Of the eight suspended BSF members, one was later sentenced to 28 days in prison in a court martial, while another was downgraded to a lower post. The other accused have been acquitted of the charges, said Johar.


The Indian National Human Rights Commission on July 8 last year had asked the BSF to pay compensation to the victim.
Earlier in July last year, the BSF had provided compensation of Rs 5,00,000 to the family of Bangladeshi cattle trader Shah Alam, who was killed by Indian border guards on November 9, 2010.
He died when BSF soldiers opened fire at Alaipur frontier under Bagha upazila of Rajshahi.
Though killing of Bangladeshis along the border had been a frequent occurrence in the past, such incidents have dropped significantly in recent times.
HABIBUR SATISFIED AT TRIAL
Expressing satisfaction over the trial of his torturers, Habibur Rahman yesterday hoped that nobody would have to face a similar ordeal ever again.
“Although it has come two years later, I'm still happy to get the compensation. I am also pleased to hear that the guilty BSF soldiers have been brought to book,” he told The Daily Star correspondent in Chapainawabganj.

Published: 12:01 am Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Last modified: 4:45 pm Thursday, February 13, 2014

TAGS: West Bengal BSF Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Habibur Rahman TV channels Lt Col Mohammad Nazim Khan BGB Battalion.

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