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Rights group launches online protest against Rajnath

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s comments that there is “no non-lethal weapons strategy” for the Border Security Force (BSF) to man the India-Bangladesh border has attracted an online protest.

A Kolkata-based human right organisation, MASUM, engaged in monitoring violence on the eastern border, launched the protest, based on an April 1 report by The Hindu .

The chief of MASUM, Kirity Roy addressed the petition to President Pranab Mukherjee charging that Mr. Singh had negated the agreement of March 2011 between the BSF and the Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB) agreeing not to use lethal weapons along the 4000-km. Indo-Bangladesh border.

“There is nothing like a non-lethal strategy. What is paramount is that our border needs to be protected. I cannot allow [a situation in which] the jawans are attacked and they cannot fire in self-defence,” Mr. Singh had said during a visit to a floating border outpost at the North 24 Parganas district.

“While everyone has the right to self-defence, the BSF usually fires shots and then lodges an FIR against the dead. This border was earlier referred to as the ‘trigger happy zone’ and the agreement between the two countries was reached after prolonged interventions by human rights organisations of both India and Bangladesh. Even children are not spared at the border. Mr. Singh’s comments were unconstitutional,” Mr. Roy said.

A policy think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) has also said that the 2011 “agreement on the non-use of lethal weapons by the BSF ....(has) substantially reduced the number of deaths at the border.”

“From 2001 to 2011, about 1,100 persons died at the border. This figure declined by about 30 per cent after the agreement was signed,” Mr. Roy added.

Although the number of deaths decreased, the BSF continued to torture ‘suspects’ on the Indian side, said South Asia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Meenakshi Ganguly.

“The number of deaths dropped significantly after the 2011 agreement but Indian nationals continue to be beaten up by the BSF,” Ms. Ganguly said.


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Printable version | Jul 4, 2022 2:27:35 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rights-group-launches-online-protest-against-rajnath-singh/article7070907.ece