Kolkata: Irresponsible statements by a section of politicians and civil rights activists have emboldened border criminals who have now turned more aggressive against Border Security Force (BSF) personnel guarding the India-Bangladesh border along West Bengal, a senior official of the Force’s Eastern Command told IANS.
At least three BSF troopers received serious injuries due to attacks by smugglers over the last few weeks, he said. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has, meanwhile, taken a decision to strengthen security along the India-Bangladesh border.
Ayush Mani Tiwari, who took over as Inspector General (IG) of the South Bengal Frontier a couple of days ago has made it very clear that security domination along the border will be his top priority. This is something that Trinamool Congress (and Left Front before 2011) leaders do not want. Unable to provide sufficiently for border villagers, successive governments in West Bengal have turned a blind eye towards nefarious activities such as smuggling of cattle, drugs, gold, silver and Phensedyl cough syrup across the International Boundary (IB). Illegal immigration from Bangladesh has been providing an increase in the votebank.
“The BSF is the stumbling block. A false narrative is being circulated regarding alleged atrocities by the BSF against border villagers. The fact is something else. It is the BSF that comes to the aid of these villagers, providing ambulances to carry the ill, injured and pregnant women to hospital, organising medical camps and routine civic action programmes. The villages don’t even have ambulances or health centres. These are things that the state should provide instead of issuing vitriolic statements against the BSF. It seems that the leaders of the state wish to push villagers along the border into a life of crime,” the official added.
The Trinamool Congress has been against extension of the BSF’s operational limits up to 50 km inland from the border. The latest flashpoint was the death of 24-year-old Prem Kumar Barman in BSF firing in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The incident occurred in December 2022.
In a bid to woo the Rajbanshi voters, Trinamool Congress leaders, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee called the youth innocent and organised demonstrations. Both Mamata and Abhishek claimed that 180 ‘bullets’ were found inside Barman’s leg.
“They were not bullets but pellets. The leaders are misleading people. Barman was part of a gang attempting to smuggle cattle across the IB. When challenged by a BSF trooper, they attacked him. This personnel was carrying a Pump Action Gun that he fired at the legs of the attackers to protect his life. The fact that most of the pellets got embedded in Barman’s leg points to the fact that he was closest to the BSF constable. Why should he have been there had he not been part of the mob trying to overpower the constable and snatch his service weapon? There was no personal enmity between the constable and Barman that could have led the former to shoot. Had that been the case, he may have pointed towards the head or chest. Hundreds of villagers wake early and go to their fields along the IB to check on their crops. Nothing of this sort happens to them,” the official said.
With general elections in Bangladesh approaching, there will be further strengthening of security along the IB, the MHA has indicated. This could bring about further allegations of high-handedness against the BSF.
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