Pranab, Ashraf downplay BSF torture on Bangladeshi citizens

IN a tone quite similar, both Indian finance minister and Bangladesh’s LGRD minister Saturday downplayed Indian border guards’ torture of Bangladeshi citizens near the border.

While Pranab Mukherjee asked media not to blow “out of proportions” the recent BSF torture of a Bangladeshi cattle smuggler in Murshidabad, Syed Ashraful Islam said Bangladesh government is not “much worried” over different incidents taking place along the Indo-Bangla border areas.

The two ministers were talking to reporters in Kolkata and Dhaka Saturday when members of Indian Border Security Force gunned down another Bangladeshi cattle trader along the Dhannokhola frontier of Benapole in Jessore.

Hot on the heels of an outcry over the brutality shown in a video footage picturing some BSF men brutally torturing a Bangladeshi citizen in Murshidabad, the Indian finance minister told reporters in Kolkata that “such incidents often take place at the border. There is no need to blow them out of proportions”.

Mukherjee said governments of India and Bangladesh would resolve the issue through discussions.

According to the victim, Habibur Rahman, a 22-year-old cattle smuggler from Chapainawabganj, BSF men in uniform stripped and tortured him on December 9 last year as he refused to pay them a bribe.

The video clip which was aired on some Indian TV channels, including NDTV, earned strong criticism for the BSF members from people in both the countries. The BSF authorities have already suspended eight of its personnel in connection with the incident and ordered a full-fledged probe into it.

Bangladesh has already protested the “violent action” by the Indian BSF and wanted India to thoroughly probe the incident.

Asked to comment on BSF’s torture on Bangladeshi citizens, LGRD Minister Syed Ashraf said Saturday: “Many incidents are taking place frequently in bordering areas of both the country – cattle lifting, drug smuggling and many other incidents. This is nothing new. These happened in the past, are happening presently and will also happen in the future.”

Also general secretary of ruling Awami League, Ashraful was talking to reporters after inaugurating the orientation programme for the newly appointed zilla parishad administrators in the city.

“I am from the border area. I am well aware of these things. The government cannot hold trials of all these,” he said, adding that many issues are involved with the incidents taking place in the bordering areas.

Replying to a query, Ashraful said: “It’s not right that the state will put aside everything and concentrate just on these [incidents in border areas].”


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