By Our Representative
Making two separate complaints to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman, a senior civil rights leader has said that the security forces stationed near the Bangladesh border in West Bengal have “harassed, insulted and tortured” Muslim women Serina Bibi and Rabiya Bibi.
In the first case, Kirity Roy said, Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with the Bithari Border Out Post, 112 Battalion, the woman, Serina Bibi, was touched inappropriately, detained unnecessarily in the name of searching, forcibly removing all her clothes, and making her complete naked and assaulting her physically.
Roy is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI).
Serina Bibi is a house wife and belongs to a poor marginalized Muslim community, residing at the bordering village of Hakimpur (Uttarpara) under Swarupnagar Block and Police Station in the district of North 24 Parganas”. The incident took place on April 29.
According to Roy, two female BSF constables were present “at the time of making her fully naked”, adding, “They touched the private parts of the body of the victim and hit with the sticks in different organs of her body in the name of checking which is extremely insulting and shameful for any woman.”
In the second incident, which took place on April 30, Roy said, a BSF personnel associated with ‘G’ branch of 112 Battalion, Bithari BSF Border Outpost in Dharkanda village of Swarupnagar Police station area in North 24 Parganas district, Rabiya Bibi, a poor housewife who lives on the meagre income of her husband, who is a daily agricultural labourer, stopped Rabiya Bibi on the road and started physically torturing her.
Roy said, the BSF personnel “did not pay heed to the repeated pleas of the victim that she was fasting for Roza and therefore was physically weak”, alleging, “The perpetrator slapped and punched her and later started beating her with sticks.”
“The torturous acts of the BSF critically injured the victim on her face and forehead and she was admitted to the Sarapul rural hospital for treatment”, Roy said, regretting, while in both the cases the victims had lodged written complaints to the Superintendent of Police, no action has been taken against the perpetrators till date.
Incidents legitimize demand to ratify of UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment
According to Roy, the incidents violate the rights guaranteed in Article 19 and 21 of Indian Constitution and also the premise of Article 6, 7 and 9 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the Goal No 16 of Sustainable Development Goal earmarked by United Nations, as in both these international instruments the government of India is a party and have agreement.
Asserted Roy, the incidents and subsequent impunity “legitimize our long-standing demand for immediate ratification of United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment”.
He urged the NHRC chairman to hold “independent inquiry” into both the cases, ensuring that BSF “should be stationed at the zero point of the border and not inside villages”, the perpetrators “should be tried and prosecuted”, and the victim should be “adequately compensated.”