Protesting the “attack” on customs employees by the members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) at Tamabil Land Port in Sylhet, officials of Chattogram Customs House held a demonstration yesterday.
On Thursday, three customs staffers were injured in a brawl with BGB members in Tamabil Land Port area over checking luggage of passengers.
Pijus Kanti Biswas, organising secretary of Chattogram-Cumilla-Sylhet Executive Officers' Association, told The Daily Star, “We will wear black badges for the next two days, demanding punishment for the BGB members involved in the attack.”
If their demand is not met, they would abstain from work from Wednesday, he added.
On Thursday, three Indian students, studying at a Sylhet medical college, arrived from Meghalaya at the port. BGB men intercepted them, claiming that they were carrying Indian liquor. When the checking began, the students reported the incident to the customs officials.
They rushed to the spot and got locked into a brawl with BGB men, said Shipon Kumar Das, assistant revenue officer of the port.
Shipon claimed that it is the duty of customs officials to check luggage, but BGB men often do it with an intention to get some bribe. “When the customs officials went to the port area in the evening to settle the issue, BGB men beat them up,” he claimed.
Lt Col Shah Alam Chowdhury, director of 48 Border Guard Battalion in Sylhet, termed the claim baseless. BGB has the authority to check suspicious baggage. “On Thursday, soldiers had an intelligence report that the passengers were carrying illegal liquor."
When they found the liquor, customs officials snatched the bags and also assaulted a female soldier, he claimed.
On instruction of their top officials, they came to apologise in the evening, but locked into an altercation with the soldiers, he said, adding, “The BGB men acted in self-defence, which may have caused minor injuries to one or two of them."