The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) on Friday welcomed the compensation of Rs 8 lakh awarded by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to the victims of killings by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel in November 2010 in Tripura.
The BSF jawans had shot a trader Khoka Mia and injured his sons Abdul Kalam and Badhsa Mia in firing in South Tripura, when he was trying to defend his daughter Tulu Akhtar from alleged “molestation by the BSF troopers”.
The NHRC had recommended compensation and the Ministry of Home Affairs had accepted the recommendations and paid compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs to Tulu Aktar, Rs. 5 lakhs to the next of kin of the deceased Khoka Mia and Rs. 50,000 each to Abdul Kalam and Badhsa Mia.
Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights Suhas Chakma said that this is a classic case where all attempts were being made to protect the accused and urged NHRC to make sure that the culprits are punished.
“This is a classic case of treatment of violence against women by the Indian security forces where all attempts are made to protect the culprits. The NHRC must not close the case until the Ministry of Home Affairs complies with the directions already issued by the NHRC to inform the Commission about steps that Government will take to ensure that these three BSF personnel are tried for the crimes that they are suspected of having committed.” he said.
The Asian Centre for Human Rights filed a complaint with the NHRC on 1 December 2010 against these violations by the BSF.
However, the Tripura Police had registered a compliant against the BSF personnel for offences but the police could not arrest the accused as the BSF authorities refused to hand over them.
The police in April 2012 filed a charge-sheet for offences against three BSF personnel in the Court of the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Belonia.
On the refusal of cooperation by the BSF with the judicial magistrate, the NHRC said: “It is a sorry state of affairs that where women’s rights are violated by Armed Forces, the senior officers of the Armed Forces are declining even to cooperate with the process issued by the Court.”
Deputy Inspector General (Operations) of the BSF Yadvendra Singh in his letter dated 24 March 2011 to the NHRC stated that the Staff Court of Inquiry conducted by the BSF had established that there was no substance in the allegation of attempt to commit rape of Tulu Akhtar and further added that the BSF enjoyed immunity under the BSF Act of 1968 and Section45 of the Criminal Procedure Code for discharging official duty.
The NHRC said that “Molestation, attempt to rape etc. are not the offences committed by the person in the discharge of his duties.
“Looking to the circumstances narrated by the investigating agency, it cannot be said that the constable while in discharge of his duty fired his weapon on the deceased,” it said.
The NHRC further said that the Commission notes that the Staff Court of Inquiry held by the BSF has already absolved them.
“It has found that this is almost invariably the case with BSF Courts of Inquiry, staffed by junior officers, whose primary concern seems to be to protect their colleagues rather than to uphold the law,” it said.