BSF has suspended seven of its troops including an officer posted along the Indo-Bangla frontier and ordered a Staff Court of Inquiry into the alleged killing last week of a Bangladeshi suspected to be part of a group that was indulging in cross-border gold smuggling.
Officials said the incident took place on May 14 at about 10 am along the Banpur border post in Krishnanagar district of West Bengal when a BSF patrol party laid an ambush and intercepted a group of suspected smugglers about 300 metres from the International Border (IB) on the Indian side.
They said, soon after, close to a dozen people carrying ‘dha’ (sharp edged knifes) surrounded the BSF men and isolated Constable D Sawant who was just armed with a ‘lathi’.
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The BSF party leader, A Atreya, challenged them to release Sawant and when they did not heed, he fired a shot from his non-lethal Pump Action Gun (PAG), they said.
Subsequently, when the suspected smugglers did not pay heed to Atreya’s appeal, he fired the second shot which was taken by a Bangladeshi boy identified as Sajjal Halsena, a resident of the Chuadenga district of Bangladesh.
The teenager, they said, later succumbed to his injuries after he was taken by his friends to the other side of the border.
Patrol parties along with border keep a mix of lethal and non-lethal weapons as per a treaty inked between the two sides few years back to minimise border killings.
“A Staff Court of Inquiry has been ordered on the directions of BSF headquarters in Delhi which will go into the details of the incident. The seven personnel including the officer of the 113th battalion have been placed under suspension pending inquiry,” a senior official said.
Atreya, a commando-trained officer of the border guarding force, has recently become the face of the BSF in a international documentary which brought to the audience the exploits of the over 50-year-old force raised in 1965.
Sources said the BSF headquarters took a stern view of the case as it came at a time when a high-level delegation of the Border Security Force, led by its Director General K K Sharma, is in Dhaka for the annual border talks with their counterparts Border Guard Bangladesh.