Extrajudicial killing at the India-Bangladesh Border: Urgent Call for Justice in the case of Liton Miya

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) strongly condemn the brutal killing of Liton Miya, a Bangladeshi youth, by the Border Security Force (BSF) on 25 March 2024. This case underscores the ongoing grave human rights violations occurring at the India-Bangladesh border, perpetrated with impunity.

According to reports, Liton Miya was gunned down by BSF personnel, sustaining multiple fatal wounds to his chest and abdomen, allegedly while engaging in smuggling cattle across the border. Despite being gravely injured, Liton was shuttled between three different hospitals by the BSF, without having been treated by a doctor, before succumbing to his injuries at the MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar. The BSF, only belatedly reporting the incident to the police after 22 hours, claims self-defense, yet evidence gathered from MASUM's fact-finding mission strongly suggests excessive use of force. Furthermore, the BSF's attempt to falsely implicate four Bangladeshi and four Indian bystanders casts serious doubt on the credibility of their narrative. To date, no formal investigation into this egregious incident has been initiated.

For years, the BSF, operating as a paramilitary force, has been perpetrating a reign of terror along the India-Bangladesh border, subjecting border communities to torture, extrajudicial killings, and harassment with impunity, largely shielded from international scrutiny. The border region in West Bengal, predominantly inhabited by Muslims, Dalits, and Adivasis, is characterized by militarization and poverty, depriving residents of basic necessities and viable livelihoods, thus compelling many to resort to smuggling merely to survive. The reaction to border crossings frequently entails excessive and brutal use of force, despite the repeated commitments by both governments to reduce the number of fatalities resulting from such incidents to zero.

The Hindu nationalist agenda championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has exacerbated anti-Muslim sentiments, worsening the already dire human rights situation along the 4,096-kilometer-long international border shared by India and Bangladesh.

Moreover, pervasive corruption among border guards, who profit from illicit activities including human trafficking and cattle smuggling, underscores systemic deficiencies within governance, law enforcement, and judicial systems, perpetuating a cycle of human rights abuses and impeding meaningful reform efforts.

We ask the Indian authorities to immediately:

  • Conduct prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation into the killing of Liton Miya, as well as the ongoing pattern of torture and extrajudicial killings perpetrated by BSF personnel in bordering areas.
  • Ensure that those responsible for the murder of Liton Miya are held accountable.
  • Provide meaningful redress and rehabilitation, including monetary compensation to the victim’s family.
  • Protect witnesses from threats and harassment.