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Border guards 'killing civilians'

India's security forces routinely gun down cattle smugglers and other civilians crossing the border with Bangladesh despite little evidence of any crime, human rights campaigners have said.

The Border Security Force is detaining, torturing and killing with impunity, according to the report released by New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Indian authorities say the suspects were killed in self-defence or for evading arrest but Human Rights Watch said it "found no evidence in any death it documented that the person was engaged in any activity that would justify such an extreme response."

"The border force seems to be out of control, with orders to shoot any suspect," said the organisation's South Asia director, Meenakshi Ganguly.

The group based its findings on more than 100 interviews with victims, witnesses, activists, journalists and border guards from both India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh said it was discussing with India the possibility of guards using weapons other than firearms.

Many of the 900 Bangladeshis killed over the last decade were poor farmers or labourers taking cattle illegally across the border for trade, the report says. Some were hit by aimless cross-border firing or allegedly executed without due cause, such as 13-year-old Abdur Rakib, killed while catching fish in a lake on the Bangladeshi side.

Despite hundreds of abuse complaints by both Indians and Bangladeshis, few cases have been registered by local police and no guards have been prosecuted, the report says.

"This sends a clear message that the Indian government finds such abuses acceptable," the report says, urging both Bangladesh and India to investigate the situation.

The border force insisted it was conducting internal investigations, but would not say if anyone has been punished, the report says.


From Belfast Telegraph