INDIA: Human rights activist and a victim threatened by police for complaining about a brutal assault by the Border Security Force in West Bengal 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-375-2006
ISSUES: Torture,

INDIA: Inhuman and cruel assault; threat; intimidation; corruption; impunity; failure of criminal justice system

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from MASUM, its local partner in West Bengal, regarding the brutal assault of a poor labourer by the Border Security force (BSF). It is also alleged that when the victim tried to lodge a complaint at the local police station, the Officer in Charge intimidated the victim by using foul language and throwing away the complaint and refusing to register a complaint. It is also alleged that a local human rights activist associated with MASUM, Mr. Gopen Sharma, who was helping the victim, was also insulted by the police.


On 10 November 2006 Mr. Mohammad Sayab Ali Mondal, an agricultural labourer, was going to his property to attend to his crops in Murshidabad District, West Bengal, India. While he was approaching his property he witnessed some officials from the Border security Force – ‘C’ Company of Battalion Number 90, posted at Out Post No. 6 unloading some goods from a vehicle. Without any reason the officers approached Sayab and started beating him with bamboo sticks. Sayab suffered serious injuries in the assault and soon became unconscious. The BSF officers left him to die and quit the place. An alleged reason why the BSF officers assaulted him was because they were dealing with smuggled goods to be taken to or brought in from Bangladesh.

Once Sayab gained consciousness he managed to get to the nearby hospital at Sagarpara where he received treatment for his injuries. An X-Ray revealed that he had suffered compound fractures on his wrist.

On November 15, Sayab visited the Jalangi police station to lodge a complaint. The complaint was prepared by Mr. Gopan Sharma, a local human rights activist associated with MASUM. However, the Officer-in-Charge of the Jalangi police station, Mr. Somnath Banerjee, insulted and intimidated them and threw away the written complaint. The officer said that he cannot entertain any complaints against the BSF. The officer also shouted at Sayab saying that it is better not to do anything after hearing advices from human rights activists and also said that these activists are creating problem in the locality by taking up issues against the police, BSF and other government agents.

Dejected by the attitude of the local police, but determined to act, Sayab with the help of Gopen contacted the Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Murshidabad district, West Bengal. On receipt of the complaint the ASP directed the Jalangi police to accept the complaint without any further delay. However, the OC still refused to accept Sayab’s complaint.

According to the latest information, the Jalangi police is harassing Sayab because he has involved human rights activists to help him in his case. The police have also threatened Gopen that he would face serious consequences if he continued with his work.

There are further allegations about the Jalangi police of not arresting the murderers of Mintu Siek who was allegedly killed by cross-border smugglers on 12 March 2003, in spite of an order from the court. It is alleged that the police is refusing to arrest the criminals since they are paid off by the smugglers.


Sayab’s case is not the first case which the AHRC has been informed that depicts a clear nexus between the smugglers, local police and the BSF. In the past the AHRC has issued a series of urgent appeals calling for immediate intervention to curb the violence perpetuated by the BSF against the local villagers. In all these cases the facts suggest that the violence against the local villagers had a direct connection with the BSF handling smuggled goods. For further details please see UA-79-2005UA-217-2005UA-174-2006UA-184-2006UA-244-2006UP-156-2006UA-272-2006 and UP-192-2006.

Cross border smuggling is rampant along the Indo-Bangladesh border. The BSF, a para-military wing, is posted along the border to prevent infiltration, smuggling and illegal cross-border activities. Being a para-military unit, the BSF enjoys absolute command over operational issues over the local police in the areas where they are deployed. The domestic legislation provides certain impunities to the officers for their acts done during an operation. However, the offences committed by the BSF officers like smuggling and beating up of people are not covered under this law. The local police have every legal right and duty to take actions against these officers.
The first step in such an action is to register a First Information Report and also to report the matter to the Commanding Officer of the Battalion. The police must also investigate and file the charge sheet at the local court which entertains jurisdiction over the case. However, may police officers, the officers from Jalangi police station in particular, fails to initiate any action against the BSF and the local people allege that this is because they receive kickbacks from the BSF for not registering cases against the BSF officers.

Murshidabad district of West Bengal is one of the poorest in West Bengal. Natural calamities like massive erosion of land by the river Padma and lack of other alternatives to find job for the predominantly agricultural community has resulted in several deaths from acute starvation in the district. The government of India has provided various schemes to distribute free and subsidised food among the poor regions in the country and Murshidabad is one among them. However, owing to corruption in the distribution and lack of police action has resulted in these food grains being smuggled across the border to Bangladesh. The local people to whom these food grains are supposed to be distributed free and at subsidised rates are but forced to work as smugglers to smuggle food grains across the border to Bangladesh for pittance. This complete irony of the situation and fate is controlled by a few local police officers. The officers at the Jalangi police station are notorious for this.

A functioning criminal justice system is the primary requisite for establishing rule of law and policing is the backbone of the criminal justice system. No rights whether it is civil and political or economic, social and cultural would find meaning without a properly functioning criminal justice mechanism. While the superior courts in India and the government of India itself boasts about the luminous judgments rendered by the Apex Court of the country, in many rural villages in India none of these judgments nor any law are enforced even to the bare minimum. India is a country where 71% of its 1.2 billion population resides in villages. It simply means that for an alarming section of India’s 852 million rural population rule of law and governance makes no sense.

Please write to the authorities listed below to express your concern about this case. We urge you to write to these authorities asking them to intervene in this case, to ensure that a complaint is registered at the Jalangi police station and the BSF officers responsible for beating up the victim in this case is brought to justice. The AHRC is also writing to Ms Hina Jilani, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on the situation of human rights defenders, asking for an intervention into this case.





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Dear __________,

INDIA: Human rights activist and a victim threatened by police for complaining about a brutal assault by the Border Security Force in West Bengal

Name of the victim: Mr. Mohammad Sayab Ali Mondal, son of Mohammad Mondal, residing at Char Kakmari Village, Murshidabad District, West Bengal, India
Alleged perpetrators:
1. Officers from the Border Security Force, of which one person is known with the alias Biswasbau from the ‘C’ Company of Battalion number 90, posted at Out Post number 6, Jalangi, Murshidabad, West Bengal
2. Mr. Somnath Banerjee, Officer in Charge, Jalangi police station, Murshidabad district, West Bengal
Place and date of the incident: On 10 November 2006 within the jurisdiction of Jalangi police station, Murshidabad district, West Bengal

I am writing to you to express my concern about the case of Mr. Mohammad Sayab Ali Mondal, who was beaten up by the officers from the Border Security Force on 10 November 2006. I am informed that Sayab witnessed some BSF officers dealing with allegedly smuggled goods at the Indo-Bangladesh border. I am informed that since the BSF officers did not want a witness to speak about their illegal dealing, they beat-up Sayab thereby injuring him seriously.

Sayab who wanted to lodge a complaint against the BSF officers tried approaching the Officer in Charge (OC) at the Jalangi police station on 15 November along with Mr. Gopen Sharma, a human rights activist from Jalangi. However, Sayab and Gopen were verbally abused and intimidated by the officer Mr. Somnath Banarjee and were asked to leave the station. Aggrieved by the incident, Sayab approached the Assistant Superintendent of Police of Murshidabad who in turn ordered the OC at Jalangi police station to register the case. However, it is alleged that the OC continued refusing to register the case and also threatened Sayab and Gopen that they will have to face dire consequences if they pursued the case any further. I am informed that this was not the first time the officers from Jalangi police station are threatening human rights defenders. I am informed that the same police station has a record of abusing human rights defenders whenever a case is brought to their notice. I am also informed that the Hong Kong based Asian Human Rights Commission has also written to the United Nations Secretary General on the situation of human rights defenders Ms Hina Jilani asking for an intervention into this case.

I am also concerned about the overall performance of the officers attached with the Jalangi police station. I am informed that in the past few months there were several cases where officers from this police station were accused of either torturing victims or not inquiring into cases. I am also informed that, the BSF officers, as evident from this case, are using unwarranted force to terrorise the local population. I am concerned about the extent to which the BSF officers enjoy impunity in the area which is supported by corrupt police officers like those stationed at Jalangi police station. I am informed that in the past many cases with similar facts were brought to your notice against which you have not initiated any action.

I am aware that the facts of this case and in several other cases where the BSF officers are involved calls for an immediate intervention from the local police. However I am concerned to know that the local police often refuse to take any action against the BSF officers which is against the law.

I therefore urge you to immediately intervene in this case and to take appropriate actions so that a case of assault is registered against the BSF officers responsible for injuring Sayab. I also request you to make sure that upon registration of the case a prompt and impartial investigation is conducted into this case and the perpetrators punished in accordance with the law. I further urge you to make sure that the victim in this case receives adequate compensation and that disciplinary actions are initiated against the police officers stationed at Jalangi police station, particularly the OC for intimidating, threatening and abusing the victim and the local human rights activist.

I look for your urgent intervention into this case.

Sincerely yours,



1. Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhawan,
New Delhi
Fax: +91 11 23017290

2. Mr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister’s Office
Room number 152, South Block
New Delhi
Fax: +91 11 23016857

3. Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
Chief Minister/ Minister of Home Department
Government of West Bengal
Writer’s Building
Kolkata – 700 001
West Bengal
Fax: +91 33 2214 5480/ 2214 1341

4. Justice Mr. Y. K. Sabharwal
Chief Justice of India
Through the Office of the Registrar General
Supreme Court of India
1 Tilak Marg, New Delhi
Fax: +91 11 23383792

5. Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi -110001
Fax: +91 11 2334 0016

6. Mr. A. K. Mitra
Director General
Border Security Force
B-10, CGO Complex, New Delhi
Fax: +91 11 24361794

7. Chief Secretary
Government of West Bengal
Writers’ Buildings, Kolkata – 700001
West Bengal
Fax: +91 33 22144328

8. Home Secretary
Government of West Bengal
Writers’ Buildings, Kolkata – 700001
West Bengal
Fax: +91 33 22143001

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-375-2006
Countries : India,
Issues : Torture,