The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information concerning the corruption of a driver of ‘G’ Branch of ‘E’ Company of 152 Battalion of the BSF who had been bribed to permit smuggling and who, when in danger of being exposed, turned on the victim, Mr Abdul Karim Molla, and brutally assaulted him. Mr Yunus Molla, Karim’s father, lodged a formal complaint with Swarupnagar Police Station, but no action was subsequently taken to address the crime against Karim. Instead, the family has been threatened and harassed by the BSF and other police officials who wish to see the case withdrawn. The deception of the BSF driver, the complicity of the local Panchayat in acts of violence and intimidation against their own constituents and the inaction by informed police authorities are troubling. Such corruption, violence and impunity must be quickly and effectively addressed by the local authorities and central government for peace and justice to prevail.
In the Urgent Appeal Case (For further details, please see: AHRC-UAC-032-2012), it was reported that around 7.10am on 11 February 2012, Mr Abdul Karim Molla, son of Mr Yunus Molla, had been planning to cross the Indo-Bangladesh border near Bithari Border Outpost to smuggle two pieces of leather into Bangladesh. Karim had made an earlier deal with Mr Brijesh, a driver of ‘G’ Branch of ‘E’ Company of 152 Battalion of the BSF to overlook this smuggling activity.
When Karime was ready to cross the border with the leather, Mr Akbar Khan, then the Company Commander of the ‘E’ Company, arrived unannounced. Afraid that the Commander would discover his corruption, the driver began assaulting Karim with a bamboo pole and verbally abused him. The Commander witnessed this brutal attack. Karim sustained cuts and bruises and was so pained he was unable to move.
Around 11.30pm the next day (12 February), a group of BSF officers from the ‘E’ Company forced their way into Karim’s house without producing any warrant or reason for the intrusion. Karim’s parents were home and the officers threatened “dire consequences” while asking after Karim. Although Karim was home, he managed to escape arrest.
Karim’s father, Mr Yunus Molla, filed a complaint against the perpetrator at Swarupnagar Police Station and also informed MASUM of the incident. The complaint was registered as General Diary Entry No. 647/12 dated 14 February 2012. Infuriated, the BSF officers began to threaten the family, trying to frighten them into withdrawing the complaint. Police officers from the local panchayat joined in these threats and intimidating acts.
Around 8.10pm on 22 February, Yunus was accosted when returning home from his shop in front of Mr Majid Master’s house in the village where Karim lives. Fifteen to twenty BSF officers surrounded Yunus, led by the Company Commander. The Commander held Yunus by his neck and pushed him, threatening that if the complaint was not withdrawn by 9am the next day the BSF would make his life hell. Yunus was so terrified he left his home and began hiding elsewhere.
MASUM has since received news that Yunus, Karim and their family have been continually harassed by the BSF and police ever since. Around 7.20pm on 28 March, a personnel from the BSF’s Amudia Camp, identified as Mr V. P. Singh and a member of the Panchayet from Daharkandi Villge, Mr Jahirul Haq Chowdhury visited Yunus’ bicycle repair shop at Swarupdah Market under the jurisdiction of Swarupnagar Police Staion. The BSF officer threatened, in the presence of the Panchayet member, “You are daring to complain against the BSF. Your audacity will cost you your life. If you do not withdraw the complaint, I will report that and you will have to visit the BSF camp by 9am on 29 March if you wish to live.”
Yunus once again alerted the Additional Superintendent of Police of North 24 Parganas to the threat made upon his life and physical security with a written complaint on 30 March, but again, no action was taken to ensure his safety or to investigate and punish the BSF responsible for these acts of intimidation, violence and impunity.
Despite appeals from MASUM and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Chief Secretary of West Bengal, the Director General of the BSF, the Superintendent of Police and District Magistrate of North 24 Parganas and various international human rights bodies, no action has been taken by the district, state and central authorities. It is disgraceful that individuals are being forced to live amidst such fear and insecurity, and that the perpetrators are themselves entrusted to protect these very individuals they are now persecuting. An independent and impartial investigating agency must immediately be appointed by the National Human Rights Commission to investigate, and, if necessary, recommend punitive action to be taken against these BSF officers who have robbed Yunus and his family of their constitutional and human rights. The complicity of the Panchayat in these violent acts and intimidation should be thoroughly investigated as well; the police have a moral and legal obligation to their constituents’ safety and should certainly not participate, either actively or passively, in threats against these individuals.
We call upon the relevant authorities to act today. The physical safety of the family and witnesses must be assured. The community at large must furthermore be promised that such acts of violence and impunity will henceforth cease so that their faith in the justice system can be restored, and they may live peacefully and with a sense of security.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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