A forgotten promise | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 24, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:40 AM, January 24, 2020

A forgotten promise

Border killings by BSF tripled last year compared to 2018 despite India’s assurance of ‘zero death’; 4 more killed

“Zero death.”

These words come up whenever a Bangladeshi national is killed at the border.

In the inevitable flag meetings that follow the killings, Bangladesh expresses concern and India makes promises of stopping the killings.

But the killings at the border continue unabated.

The number of border killings tripled last year compared to 2018, according to rights watchdog Ain O Salish Kendra.

At least 43 Bangladeshis were killed by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) in 2019 while it was 14 in 2018, it said.

At least seven people got killed along the border this month.

Meanwhile, the two governments keep claiming that Bangladesh-India relationship has reached new heights in the last decade.

Four Bangladeshis were killed in the Noagaon and Jashore borders yesterday and two others were shot dead in Lalmonirhat the day before.

“It is surprising that killings along the border are going on even after the issue has been discussed in different forums of the two governments on multiple occasions. It means the Indian government is not sending the message to its trigger-happy border force,” said CR Abrar, professor of international relations at Dhaka University.

“It seems to me that the Indian government is not considering the killings a problem. At the same time, we are not raising the point properly. Imagine what would happen if a single such death happened along the India-Pakistan border,” he added.

Bangladesh should protest strongly and take effective steps to stop the killings, he said.

Bangladesh is surrounded by India on three sides and the two countries share 4,156 kilometres of border, the world’s fifth-longest.

In a meeting of the director generals of the BSF and Border Guard Bangladesh last December in Delhi, Indian officials said they would remain cautious and avoid the “undesirable deaths”.

On January 11, Foreign Minister AK Momen told reporters: “India promised [that] not even a single person would die in the border areas. Unfortunately, border killing is a reality. We are concerned”.

It is often said that the killings are an outcome of cattle smuggling.

But cattle smuggling has reduced a lot in recent years because Bangladesh is self-sufficient in meat production.

A year before India’s ban on cattle export in 2014, around 2.3 million cattle were brought to Bangladesh from India during the Eid-ul-Azha. The number fell to 92,000 in 2019, according to BGB data.

Of the 43 Bangladeshis killed last year, 37 were shot dead while the rest were tortured to death. The BGB maintains that 35 people were killed by the BSF last year. 

The death toll was 24 in 2017, 31 in 2016, and 46 in 2015, according to ASK.


Three men were shot dead at Porsha border in Naogaon and one man was tortured to death at Putkhali border in Jashore’s Sharsa upazila.

In Naogaon’s Porsha, Mofizul, 35, of Bishnupur, Sandwip, 32, of Bizli, and Kamal Hossain, 34, of Patapukur, were shot dead, a BGB official told The Daily Star, wishing anonymity.

In a BGB-BSF meeting in the afternoon, BSF officials regretted the killing, Lt Col AKM Ariful Islam of BGB Battalion-16 told The Daily Star.  

Locals told our correspondent in Chapainawabganj that BSF members detained another 27-year-old man named Kabil, who was with the three victims.

The man tortured to death was Hanef Ali Khoka, 35, of Agrabhulat area in Sharsa. Locals said he was detained on Wednesday.

Mofizul’s body was recovered in the afternoon from the Bangladesh side, said Shahinur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Porsha Police Station.

In Jashore, Hanef was caught by BSF men of Bannabaria camp Wednesday afternoon, said Tabuibar Rahman, local union parishad member. 

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