The death toll at the Bangladesh-India border continues to mount three months after the Indian government instructed its border security forces to stop shooting civilians suspected of being undocumented migrants or a threat to national security, say local residents.
NGOs have denounced the border killings as extrajudicial .
The abuse continues, according to Bangladeshi human rights NGO, Odhikar, , which accuses India's border security force (BSF) of circumventing the recent no-shooting decree with beatings, stonings or poisoning.
However, the First Secretary of the Indian embassy in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, told IRIN that any killings had been linked to border crime.
"The BSF does not attack civilians. This is not happening any more. Only in a few cases, they have acted in self-defense," said Manoj Kumar Mohapatra.
Some 347 Bangladeshis and 164 Indians have been killed by Indian forces since 2006, when the Indian government built the wall, according to BSF.
Mohammad Baten, the latest man allegedly killed by the BSF - the 24th this year - was reportedly beaten to death, according to Bangladesh's border security.
The 4,000-kilometer fence has been dubbed the "Great Wall of India" by international media, while locals simply know it as the "wall of death."
India's government built the wall to restrict movement of "illegal immigrants, smugglers and suspected Islamic militants," according to officials quoted in local media.
Farmers corralled by the barbed wire find it increasingly difficult to lead ordinary lives.
"They have surrounded the people of Bangladesh on three sides with barbed wire," said Adilur Rahman, secretary of Odhikar. "It's like the Berlin Wall. You have brothers, even husbands and wives, separated on both sides."
"When they turn [the floodlights] on, the night becomes day here," says nine-year-old Anis Ahmed.
The barbed wire is visible from Ahmed's house at the border near the village of Amgaon in Bangladesh's Dinajpur District. Ahmed and his 11-year-old cousin, Shohir Jamal, work on their family's farm every day. Their crops grow right up to what is known as the zero point of the border, where Bangladeshi and Indian soil meets.
On this particular day, Ahmed and Jamal walked towards the border while two guards monitored them with binoculars.
"We go up to the fence all the time," they told IRIN. Wary adults lingered behind, warning them not to go further.
Ahmed and Jamal work on their farm side by side with Indian farmers, who cross the border to work on their land.
"The Indian farmers never speak to us," says Ahmed, "If they do, the BSF yells at them. If we try to talk to them, they don't pay any attention to us. They are worried that the BSF will accuse them of being smugglers, or helping illegal immigrants."
There is mistrust on the Bangladeshi side of the border too. "At night we put our cows inside the house and lock up all the animals," said Jamal.
Against the backdrop of border crimes, villagers become suspicious, according to a local primary school teacher, Jalal Ahmed.
"Everyone else thinks we're all smugglers here, so our people have to deal with that prejudice. And there are [actual] criminals here, not just cattle smugglers but a lot of drugs are smuggled here too," he said. "It's very bad for our society, for our children."
Felani Khatun, 15, an undocumented Bangladeshi immigrant in India, was shot while climbing the wall to cross back home on 7 January this year. A photo of her lifeless body hanging from the barbed wire sparked widespread uproar in Bangladeshi media.
Nur Islam, Khatun's father, had successfully climbed over the fence seconds before Felani was shot.
"There was no shout, no warning," he told IRIN. "I don't understand why they didn't shout anything. I saw them. They just got up and shot. And my girl cried out."
- Provided by Integrated Regional Information Networks.
- United States Reacts to Indian Government's Efforts to Censure Online Content
- Economic Growth Slows in India
- India: Border Killings Mount Despite No-Shooting Decree
- Ethnic Minority Leaders Claim Betrayal by Bangladesh Authorities
- Pakistan: SWAT women face dual burden
- A Nuclear Wake-up Call
- Global Corruption: Party Systems and the Control of Politicians
- International Security: Balanced Transition
- Global Health: The Beginning of the End of AIDS?
- Humanitarian Assistance: Dead or Live Aid
- Renewed Focus on Pacific Region Intended to Distract from Unrest at Home?
- The Problem with China Envy
- China Says Exports to West Face Challenges
- Australia Remilitarizes
- Radioactive Water Leaks at Japanese Nuclear Plant
- Burma: A Normal Dictatorship?
- Is Burma Really Changing?
- Burma's Big Brother
- Burma: Appeasement Complex
- Nepal Rated Second Most Corrupt Country in South Asia
- Nepal: Himalayan Glaciers Melting Fastest than Ever
- Nepal: The Latest on Ice Melt at The Third Pole
- Major Economies Headed for Slowdown
- Is the National Security Complex Too Big to Fail?
- India: 'Enclave' Residents Campaign for Citizenship
- Bangladesh Begins Trial of Islamist for War Crimes
- Disaster Times Two in Pakistan
- Pakistan Says It Can Live Without U.S. Aid
- Afghanistan: There's a Winnable War in Progress
- Central Asia: Iran Being Left Out of New Silk Road Plans
- Is Alarm About Seven Billion People Just Modern-day Eugenics?
- Seven Billion ... And Rising
- Seven Billion People: So Why Do Some Fear Population Decline?
- The World Is Finally Fighting Off the Infection of Neoliberalism
- Seoul Salvation
- Global Health: 'Contagion'
- Malaria: Tackling a Historic Foe
- Playing With Fire on the Korean Peninsula
- Why We Need Not Envy China
- China's Rhetoric of Peace
- Nepal: Tibetan Monk Hurt in Self-Immolation Try
- Bangladesh: Disaster-Resilient Settlement Points Way Forward
- Bangladesh and Russia Ink Nuclear Power Deal
- Thailand: Undocumented Workers Exploited Post Thai Floods
- 'Dramatic Developments' But Challenges Ahead for Myanmar
- United States: The News of Empire
- Russia: Twenty Years On
- Russia: Batman Returns
- America Now More Pro-Civil Service Than Russia
- Seven Billion People: So Why Do Some Fear Population Decline?
- Democracy in Revolution: the Mediterranean Moment
- Riots and Revolutions in the Digital Age
- When Do You Know You Have Crossed a Watershed?
- Global Financial Regulation: Goal Many Espouse But Can It Be Done?
- Forging a Lasting Peace
- Why We Still Need Nuclear Power
- Arab Spring: Fall Update
- China's Health Crisis: The Sick Man of Asia
- China: More Than Just a Currency Game
- Does Kim Need to Keep His Nukes to Avoid Gaddafi's Fate?
- Is Indonesia Bound for the BRICs?
- Burma Requires Alliance Between Armed and Nonviolent Resistance
- Pakistan: Reversing the Lens
- US-Pakistan Relations: Straw That Broke the Camel's Back?
- Pakistan: Sindh Flood Victims Lack Shelter as Winter Approaches
- Should India Join the Sovereign-Wealth-Fund Herd?
- Bangladesh Population Pegged at 150.5 Million
Available at Amazon.com:
Copyright 2011, AHN - All Rights Reserved