Bangladesh border guards abduct, torture, kill Dalit youth, NHRC thinks ‘no rights violated’
In a suprise move, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has closed the case of a Dalit youth, who was “abducted, tortured and killed by border guards of Bangladesh” after claiming to be “satisfied” with the proceedings of the case.
Bringing this to light, in a representation to the NHRC chairman, Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) and national convenor Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, says, the case shows NHRC has “wiped out” the responsibility of taking any action on the human rights violation of the victim.
“What is the duty of the NHRC? Only to close the case as the matter is being investigated by the local police station?”, he asks, underlining, “In this case, armed forces from the neighboring country enter Indian territory and abduct and kill an Indian citizen in their custody. But NHRC did not find any human rights violation.”
Reference: NHRC case number 4281/25/13/2021-ad; complaint of the case dated 26.09.2022; action taken status report of the case dated 26.09.2022
With due respect I am to submit that on 26.09.2022 we received one action taken status report of the Commission in connection with the above referred case from where it is revealed that your Commission closed the case based on the report of the DG (OPS) BSF dated 18.05.2022; 21.06.2022 and 27.07.2022. In this respect I submit my open letter of protest against the action taken status report of the Commission.
From the action taken status report of your Commission it is revealed that DG (OPS) BSF vide dated 18.05.2022; 21.06.2022 and 27.07.2022 and 23.08.2022 reported that the death case of deceased Bharat Mondal filed at Raninagar Police station case number 443/2021 dated 03.10.2021 under section 363/365 and 302 of Indian Penal Code is under process.
The investigation by the Bangladesh government in the death case of Bharat Mondal is under way and its report is awaited. The Ministry of External Affairs is under constant touch with Bangladesh government to receive the report and as the machinery of Law is set into motion, therefore, no further monitoring of case is required by the Commission and the case is closed.
Based on the report of the DG (OPS) BSF, your Commission decided to close the case. But I did not receive the said report of the DG (OPS) BSF dated 18.05.2022; 21.06.2022; 27.07.2022 and 23.08.2022 and without giving the complainant any chance to peruse the report of the DG (OPS) BSF, your authority closed the case. How is it possible that without giving any chance to comment on the report submitted by the DG (OPS) BSF, your authority itself closed the case?
Your Commission is the supreme institution of the protector of the human rights of every citizen within the territory of India and being the supreme institution of human rights, your Commission violated the most cherished rule of law i.e. ‘audi alteram partem’ (hear the other side). The complainant must be given a chance to submit his comments upon the enquiry report of the Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad.
Being the complainant, MASUM has full right to peruse the police enquiry report in connection with this case. Section 18 (d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 also provides to send the copy of the enquiry report to the petitioner or his representatives. But here NHRC violates the norms mentioned in its own guiding statute.
This is a case of illegal abduction and custodial death of one innocent Indian villager namely Bharat Mondal. On 02.10.21 at around 10:00 am the victim went out of his house, which is situated on the Indian side of the fencing. At around 11:00 am the victim submitted his Aadhaar card as identity proof to the on-duty BSF jawan posted at the gate of outpost No 10, Char Rajanagar BSF camp in order to cross the fencing and reach his agricultural field.
It is a common practice at the West Bengal-Bangladesh border that villagers in order to cross the fencing and reach their houses or agricultural fields have to mortgage their identity documents to the BSF. At around 1:00 pm as Bharat Mondal was working in his field along with other villagers, 3/4 BGB (Border Guard of Bangladesh) personnel attached with Kalaimari BGB camp came to the spot and apprehended Bharat.
The other villagers present in the area, being scared, escaped from there. Some of them later revealed that Bharat was handcuffed by the BGB personnel and beaten up brutally while they took him along with them. At around 6:30 pm, the BSF personnel attached with Char Rajanagar BSF camp noticed that the entry made by Bharat Mondal is still registered as he didn’t return from his field and collect his Aadhaar card from the BSF outpost.
They informed Bharat Mondal’s family at that time. While asking the other villagers who went to the field along with Bharat, Minati Mondal, Bharat’s wife, was informed about the incident. She immediately rushed to the Char Rajanagar BSF camp and begged the BSF officers to contact the BGB authorities and rescue her husband.
After a while the BSF officer informed Ms. Minati Mondal that a flag meeting had been organized with the BGB authorities at around 9:00 pm. Later the flag meeting was postponed to 9:00 am next day on 3.10.21. However, at around 8:30 am on 3.10.21, many of the villagers received a viral image in whatsapp, where the body of Bharat Mondal is seen floating in a water body with handcuffs in his hands but the location of the body is unrecognizable.
The flag meeting was again postponed to 7:00 pm that day. It has been reported that during the flag meeting the BGB officials stated that they had arrested Bharat Mondal as he crossed the border into Bangladesh illegally. But as they were taking him to their camp on a boat, he jumped into the river in an attempt to escape and went missing.
Minati Mondal informed the incident to the Murshidabad Superintendent of Police via WhatsApp (from Mobile no. 7384936025 to no. 9564100100) on 4.10.21. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 26.09.2022 it is revealed that the case number 443/21 dated 03.10.2021 under section 363/365/302 IPC Raninagar Police station has been registered and the same is under investigation.
Since criminal law has been set in motion, no further intervention of the Commission is required. Therefore, the Commission decided to close the case. It should be remembered that NHRC is a quasi-judicial body and a watch tower over all types of violations of human rights. So it has jurisdiction to run the case after knowing the matter was investigated by the local police personnel.
My question is – What is the duty of the National Human Rights Commission? Only to close the case as the matter is being investigated by the local police station. That means NHRC wiped out his responsibilities from taking any action on the case of human rights violation of the victim. In this case, armed forces from the neighboring country enter Indian territory and abduct and kill an Indian citizen in their custody. But NHRC did not find any human rights violation in this case. Systematic violation – not guarding the international border – is not such a matter to look into.
Why did NHRC not issue any recommendation of compensation to the wife of the deceased victim?
It should be remembered that Paris Principles guides the workings of National Human Rights Institutions, where it is laid down that National Human Rights Institutions are funded by the state but are independent of it, they are not non-governmental institutions but they act as bridge between civil societies and government and they receive and consider complaints of human rights violations, participate in accountability and transitional justice process in countries affected by conflict or in transition after conflict, assist the development of democratic institutions and organize capacity building in the areas of accountability, the rule of law and democracy.
NHRC becomes unsympathetic towards the victim. Concerned police investigated the case till now. Why did NHRC not inquire the case in its independent way? Section 13 (1) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 provides the power of a civil court to the Commission trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Why did the Commission not use its power mentioned in the section 13 (1) (a), (b), (c), (d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act for revelation of truth in connection with the above referred case?
Why did NHRC not issue any recommendation of compensation to the wife of the deceased victim? Deceased victim was the sole earner for his family and currently the wife of the deceased victim has not any source of stable income to run his family. Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 provides that the Commission may issue recommendation of compensation to the victim for her human rights violation during or upon the completion of an inquiry. But in this case NHRC closed the case without issuing any recommendation or findings.
The Commission has also power of recommendation to the concerned government or authority at any stage of the inquiry for the grant of such immediate interim relief to the victim or the members of his family as the Commission may consider necessary. Deceased victim was the sole earner for his family and currently the wife of the deceased victim has not any source of stable income to run his family. Why did NHRC not use the power of section 18(C) of the Protection of Human Rights Act in this case?
Section 19 of the Protection of Human Rights Act deals with the procedure in respect to armed forces. It says the Commission may, either on its own motion or on receipt of a petition, seek a report from the Central government; and after the receipt of the report, it may, either not proceed with the complaint or, as the case may be, make its recommendations to that Government. In connection with this case police submitted a report that investigation is still continuing and based on that the Commission closed the case. Why did NHRC fail to provide any observation or recommendation to the government in this case?
Therefore, I am submitting my letter of protest against the decision of the Commission in respect of the above referred case and requesting to reopen the case again and to be inquired into the matter independently for digging out the truth and providing justice to the victim’s family.
Courtesy : Counter view
Note: This news piece was originally published in counterview.net and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights
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