INDIA: Youth killed by firing by Border Security Force (BSF) in the South Dinajpur district, West Bengal 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-18-2005
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings,
Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from MASUM, a human rights organisation in West Bengal, that Rabin Hansda, a 34 year-old mentally ill man, was killed by three members of the Border Security Force (BSF) on 23 January 2005 in the southern district of Dinajpur, West Bengal, India. Hansda was shot at with seven rounds of firing and killed instantly. Locals in Hansda’s community allege that the young man was killed for no cause, and that the BSF personnel were most likely intoxicated.

BSF claims that they fired on Hansda because he was smuggling illegal cough syrup near a wired fence border at the time of the incident and tried to evade authorities when told to halt. They further said that they seized this illegal cough syrup from the victim. However, the victim’s family and friends adamantly refute these claims, citing his lack of mental capacity. Preliminary investigations have reported inconsistencies in the BSF’s account. Mr. Manowar Ali, Chief of the Safanagar Village Council, reported that no blood stains existed where the body was found. It was most likely that the killing occurred elsewhere and the murdered body was taken to the fenced area later. Further action is yet to be taken.

This case is yet another example of the violence carried out by BSF personnel. Repeated allegations of recklessness and abuse of power have been made by those living around the Indo-Bangladesh border against the BSF.

Your urgent action is required to highlight the gross violations of the rights of those living around the Indo-Bangladesh border. Please write to the Director General BSF demanding a thorough investigation in this particular case so that the perpetrators are prosecuted and the victim’s family served justice for this inhuman act.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)


Name of the victim: Rabin Hansda, 34 year-old, mentally ill man belonging to a scheduled tribe
Place of incidence: Basanti village of Kumarganj (Adivasi Para-village of indigenous people), South Dinajpur district, West Bengal, India
Alleged perpetrators: Three Border Security Force (BSF) personnel
Date of incidence:
 23 January 2005

Case Details:

On the evening of 23 January 2005 Rabin Hansda (34), a tribal man with a chronic mental illness, was shot and killed by three Border Security Force (BSF) personnel in Basanti village of Kumarganj, Southern Dinajpur district, West Bengal, India. The young man was killed during seven rounds of firing. His body was found near a wired fence area. After the incident, the BSF claimed that Hansda was involved in a cough syrup smuggling ring and was trying to evade the authorities at the time of the incident.

Upon hearing of the incident, members of Hansda’s village and family immediately voiced their protests in front of the local Panchayet (village council) Office. They alleged that the BSF personnel intentionally killed the mentally ill young man without cause, and demanded that the police administration start an immediate inquiry and punishment of the concerned BSF personnel.

The authorities responded with a primary investigation into the matter. Mr. Biswanath Chaudhury, Minister-in-Charge of the Department of Jails, Government of West Bengal ordered the district magistrate to submit an inquiry report into the incident and guaranteed that the necessary action would be taken up after receiving the report. Mr. Ramit Mutsuddi, District Magistrate of South Dinajpur stated that the local Circle Inspector of Police and Officer-in-Charge had visited the murder site and that necessary measurements would be taken after receiving the report.

However, the BSF continues to maintain their actions were just and in response to criminal activity. They allege they have seized some prohibited cough syrup as evidence of smuggling from the victim’s body. The BSF Commandant Gauranga Pal claimed, “On Sunday night, three BSF Jawans [soldiers] saw three persons near the wired fence area. The BSF Jawans told them to halt but they tried to evade and run away. Then only did BSF fire.”

Villagers in Hansda’s community refute BSF allegations saying that the victim was commonly known by the entire locality, even BSF personnel, as “Pagla (Mad) Rabin”. They suspect that some of the Jawans were drunk and they fired at Hansda from point blank range. The victim’s wife, Jhumuri Murmu, added that she couldn’t believe her husband was involved with the smuggling. She reiterated that a proper investigation must be carried out in order to clear up the matter and enable the seeking of appropriate redress for the incident.

According to the latest information we have received, the report of the primary investigation into the incident, led by Mr. Manowar Ali, the Chief of the Safanagar Village Panchayet, stated that no blood stains existed in the place where the dead body of Hansda was found (near the wired fence area). The report suggested that the firing occurred in a different place and that the victim’s body was moved near the wired fence area by the perpetrators after his death. However, further action has yet t be taken against the concerned army personnel.

This case is not only about the unreasonable action taken against this young man, but the right to due process for people of mental illness. Article 6 of the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 2856 (XXVI) of 20 December 1971 stated, ‘The mentally retarded person has a right to protection from exploitation, abuse and degrading treatment. If prosecuted for any offence, he shall have a right to due process of law with full recognition being given to his degree of mental responsibility.’

Indiscriminate firing by BSF personnel upon the innocent citizens of India is cause for daily headlines in newspapers. These incidents are not new and these types of injustices have been carried out by BSF personnel for far too long in the border region of West Bengal. The AHRC strongly condemns such misuse of power, impunity of the guilty personnel and autocratic attitudes of the BSF authority in West Bengal.

Please send a letter to Mr. Ajay Raj Sharma, Director General BSF requesting him to take immediate steps to have this matter properly investigated. Please also send copies of that letter to those persons listed below.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear Mr. Ajay Raj Sharma,

Re: INDIA: Youth killed by firing by Border Security Force (BSF) in the South Dinajpur district, West Bengal

Name of the victim: Rabin Hansda, 34 year-old, mentally ill man belonging to a scheduled tribe
Place of incidence: Basanti village of Kumarganj (Adivasi Para-village of indigenous people), South Dinajpur district, West Bengal, India
Alleged perpetrators: Three Border Security Force (BSF) personnel
Date of incidence:
 23 January 2005 

I am shocked to learn of the death of Mr. Rabin Hansda, a 34-year-old mentally ill man who was unjustly shot to death by three personnel of the Border Security Forces (BSF). 

The BSF allege that the shooting was necessary as Hansda was involved in smuggling illegal cough syrup and resisted the authorities upon being caught. The body was found near a wired fence area. However, the BSF's version has been refuted by Hansda's community and unsubstantiated in preliminary reports by the village council. Locals in the village cite that because Hansda was mentally ill, he did not have the capacity to be involved in smuggling. Further, the preliminary report led by Mr. Manowar Ali, the Chief of the Safanagar Village Panchayet, has found that Hansda's body might have been moved to the fence area after the incident, as no blood stains existed at the fence area where the body was found. 

You must be aware that there have been previous reports of similar shootings against residents living near the Indo-Bangladesh border with no substantive reasoning. What is extremely distressing is that the BSF officials and other local authorities have failed to take proper action to stop such abuses that take place consistently. 

I urge you to look into this grave matter as an immediate priority so that not only will corrective measures be taken against the perpetrators, but that punitive actions can be taken to stop this situation from continuing. The individuals responsible for Hansda's death and the BSF at large must be held accountable for these acts of injustice. To ensure that such abuses do not continue in India, I again request the Government of India to ratify the Convention against Torture (CAT) and implement it domestically.




Mr. Ajay Raj Sharma
Director General BSF
Block 10, CGO Complex
Lodhi Road
New Delhi -03.
Tel: +91 11 24362181
Fax: +91 11 24360016


1. Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Office of the President
Rashtrapati Bhawan,
New Delhi, 110004
Tel: +91 11 3016767 (Joint Secretary), 3014507 (Personal Secretary)
Fax: +91 11 3017290, 3014570
Email: or

2. Shri Justice A. S. Anand
National Human Rights Commission of India
Sardar Patel Bhawan, Sansad Marg
New Delhi - 110 001
Tel: +91 11 2334 0891 / 2334 7065
Fax: +91 11 2334 0016

3. Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
Chief Minister and Minister in Charge of Home (Police) Department
Government of West Bengal
Writers' Buildings, Kolkata - 700001
West Bengal
Tel: +91 33 2214 5555 (O) / 2280 0631 (R)
Fax: +91 33 2214 5480

4. Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen
West Bengal Human Rights Commission
Bhabani bhavan, Alipore
Tel: +91 33 4797259 / 5558866
Fax: +91 33 4799633

5. Mr. Philip Alston 
Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions 
Att: Lydie Ventre
Room 3-016
c/o OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland 
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (general)

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-18-2005
Countries : India,
Issues : Extrajudicial killings,