A 55-year-old man was killed and six were injured when Border Security Force (BSF) personnel opened fire at people in a village in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal late on Friday night.
The people blocked State highways and closed shops in the area in protest against the firing. The village is near the Dorabari border BSF outpost, close to the international border checkpoint of Changrabandha.
The deceased has been identified as Kupendra Barman of Changrabandha. The six who sustained bullet injuries have been admitted to the district hospital in Jalpaiguri.
Lying on his hospital bed, Tapas Barman, a second year college student, told presspersons that the BSF personnel “attacked the villagers without any provocation”.
Yunus Ali, a member of the Changrabandha gram panchayat area, said, “A group of BSF personnel entered the village and fired indiscriminately on the villagers.”
The BSF said its men opened fire while trying to rescue one of the jawans held hostage by the local people.
“Late on Friday evening, a jawan patrolling near the border outpost was held hostage by the locals who had gathered for cattle smuggling. He was taken to a nearby village,” a senior BSF official told The Hindu. To rescue the jawan, a group of BSF personnel reached the village and opened fire on the group of people, he added.
Mr. Ali said the jawan was held hostage because the BSF men opened fire on two people who had gone to relieve themselves in the fields.
“It was the second instance of BSF personnel firing at the villagers and killing one,” Mr. Ali said.
Jadhav Ray, another local Trinaool Congress leader, said the people had enough of the atrocities of the BSF. Trinamool leaders had been informed about the incident.
The area comes under the Guwahati Frontier of the BSF, and officials said that an inquiry had been ordered.
A few kilometres from the site, Fealni Khatun, a Bangladeshi teenager, was killed in January 2011. Felani’s body was found hanging from a barbed wire fence of the International Border hours after she was shot dead, resulting in massive outrage.