Border of Impunity
On 7th January 2011, Felani, a Bengali girl aged 15 became one of the victims of the impunity of the Indian Border Security Force at the India-Bangladesh border (International Border No. 947) in Anatrapur, Kurigram. Felani was crossing the border with her father, Mohammad Nur Islam. It was reported that Felani got caught in the wires and was eventually shot dead, but Nur Islam reveals that after he crossed the border and left Felani on the Indian side, he assumes that the BSF raped his daughter and threw her into the barbed wires before shooting her dead.
In 2010, the BSF shot 105 Bangladeshis. In the first week of 2011, 6 were killed including Felani. In March 2011, the Border Guard Bangladesh and the Indian Border Security Force met in New Delhi, India. After that gathering, the BSF Director-General Raman Srivastav said that deadly weapons would not be used against Bangladeshi citizens at the border. Nevertheless, unarmed Bangladeshis continue to be unlawfully killed. In a statement made by Srivastav to the media, he stated “We have no intention of killing,” and further asserted that “(the killings) have come down significantly”. Ashraful, Babul Shaikh, Mohammad Ali, Shofiqul Islam, Rekatul Islam, Rabindranath and more are some of the many who were murdered in different border areas between India and Bangladesh after these statements were made. According toOdhikar, a non-government organisation which advocates and documents human rights issues in Bangladesh, figures available show that thus far, 998 Bangladeshis have been killed since, 996 injured, 226 arrested, and 14 raped by BSF employees in different border areas.
On September 6, 2011, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh arrived in Dhaka for a state visit—the first Indian PM to visit in 12 years. In his speech, he made a commitment to the Bangladeshi government that merciless killings will never happen again. The BSF killed four more people on Bangladesh Victory Day: Motiar Rahman, 20, of Dakkhin Daudpur village; Tajul Islam, 26, of Rongaon village in Birampur upazila of Dinajpur; Alamgir Hossain, 25, of Krishna Nanda village in Phulbari upazila of Kurigram and Naharul Islam, 40, of Meherpur Sadar upazila.
The killings continue and more lives are snuffed out on this ‘border of impunity’. Out of her love for her neighbouring country, the Bangladeshi government is sacrificing its own people. As Rezwan, an active blogger says, “We will just utter the magic words like parrots: long live India-Bangladesh friendship.”
All images from the series Border of Impunity
Several border areas of Bangladesh, 2011, Digital
In Companyganj sub-district, Sylhet border, people have been shot because of cattle smuggling. People crossing this area intend to sell cows from India to Bangladeshis. However, untoward shooting have happened upon unsettled negotiations with the BSF.
A similar gun used by BSF to shoot down Bangladeshi’s found wandering in the border. After Felani, the killings haven’t stopped; lives are lost for nothing almost every week.
Nur Islam pointing to the gunshot wound of his daughter. And he questions, how did the bullet reached Felani’s chest because Felani was on top of the barbed wires?
The sandals Felani was supposed to wear in her wedding, now used by her 3 year old sister as a plaything.
A portrait of Felani with her 2 younger siblings. Taken when she was 11 years old, this is her last photo when she was alive.
Felani’s grave at the back of their house in Kolonituri, Nagashori, Kurigram. The possible ending of poor citizens looking for better opportunities beyond borders.
Elaich Mia, 22 was shot by the Indian BSF 25 times while he, Ashraful Islam and Shona Mia were extracting stones at the Kalidar Stone Quarry in Companyganj, Sylhet. He had to be confined in the hospital for 8 days. These scars are the remainders of that brutal evening.
What remains of Ashraful Islam. He died on the way to the hospital after being the BSF opened fire on them. Post-mortem, authorities said that the bullets hit different parts of Ashraful’s body, he lost a lot of blood and eventually died, He was only 20.
Elaich Mia pointing to Dholai River where the BSF shoot them. This sub-district contributes significant earnings to the Bangladeshi government through the extraction of minerals at the Kalidar Stone Quarry that is beside the river.