West Bengal: Father-Son Duo Beaten By BSF For Carrying Beef


Anwarul Haque (left) and his father Mohammad Giyasuddin (right) were allegedly beaten by Border Security Force personnel for carrying beef in West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district.

 

Islampur (North Dinajpur), West Bengal: A father-son duo were allegedly beaten by Border Security Force (BSF) personnel for carrying beef in Islampur town of West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district.

 

The incident occurred on May 5, 2019, near the Indo-Bangladesh border when Mohammad Giyasuddin (65), and his son Anwarul Haque (30) were returning from a weekly market where they had bought the beef for a family gathering. Giyasuddin’s brother Mohammad Tajimuddin (45) was also with the duo but fled saying he was going for a drink of water.

 

FactChecker.in contacted Inspector General of the BSF, North Bengal, Ajmal Singh Kathat, but he refused comment. The BSF is India’s primary border defense agency, which can be requisitioned by state governments for law and order purposes, as it has been in West Bengal during the ongoing elections.

 

This is the fifth incident of cow-related violence recorded in 2019, and the 128th since 2010, according to the FactChecker.in database that tracks such crimes. Of these, 98% occurred after May 2014 when the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power. Nationwide, 71% of those attacked were Muslim and 13% were Dalit, the FactChecker.in database shows.

 

This is the second incident of cow-related violence in North Dinajpur district in recent years, according to our database. In June 2017, three people were lynched by villagers after they were allegedly caught stealing cows from a house.

 

Giyasuddin is unemployed and looks after the house. The family of eight live in Narboone village of North Dinajpur district.

 

Anwarul works as a labourer in New Delhi, as do three of his brothers. He had returned to Islampur to cast his vote in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections and to attend a family wedding.

 

At around 11.30 am on May 5, 2019, the three men were returning from the Debiganj weekly market where they had purchased 15 kg of beef for the ‘rukhsati’ (sending off) of the bride (daughter-in-law of Giyasuddin), they told FactChecker. They were stopped at the Sripur BSF outpost by two BSF jawans from the 171 Battalion and asked to reveal the contents of their bag. The men complied and showed them the beef.

 

Under the West Bengal Animal Slaughter Act, 1950, animal slaughter without necessary documents and at unauthorised places is prohibited, attracting a jail term of up to six months and/or a fine of Rs 1,000. Consumption of beef is not prohibited in the state.

 

“We told them that we were carrying beef as we had a family function,” Anwarul told FactChecker.in. “We even asked them to visit our house to verify this, but they refused to budge and demanded a trade licence. I don’t have a licence as I don’t sell beef.”

 

“Upon seeing the meat, the BSF personnel assaulted Anwarul and took us to the outpost near Paulpara Chowk,” Tajimuddin told FactChecker.in. “While my brother and I were asked to wait outside, Anwarul was taken inside and physically tortured.”

 

The 30-year-old was beaten on his back with a stick, and slapped and kicked for about 10-15 minutes, he said. “The jawans even kept a knife on my fingers and threatened that they will chop them off,” Anwarul said. “One of the BSF men said, ‘No, don’t do that! He will survive and will put us in trouble later’.”

 

"The BSF personnel further blackmailed us that they would take us to the border and kill us. When they started taking us to the border, I refused to go and they summoned more colleagues of theirs,” Anwarul said. “In no time, 6-7 personnel reached the spot. They covered my face with a piece of cloth and started beating me up again."

 

Giyasuddin was also beaten with a stick seven times on his shoulder. “We were thrashed just for carrying beef,” Giyasuddin said. “We suspect some Hindus may have informed the BSF about our plans, as we have to take the Hindu-dominated route. It is intolerance in the name of cow vigilantism.”

 

“When I reached the spot, the BSF personnel were assaulting Anwarul in front of the locals,” panchayat member Biswanath Singh, who witnessed the attack, said. “One more vehicle with BSF personnel reached the spot and they warned the villagers not to repeat such an act.”

 

Singh said they repeatedly told the jawans about the gathering planned by the victims’ family. “After repeated pleading, they took Anwarul and his father to the border and buried the meat right there,” he added.

 

Tajimuddin fled the scene under the pretext of drinking water. He returned home and informed locals about the incident. That night, Tajimuddin filed a complaint with the Goalpokher police.

 

Anwarul was admitted to the Islampur hospital, and discharged a week later, on May 12, 2019; Giyasuddin was taken to the Lodhi primary health centre for medical aid and treatment.

 

Matter ‘amicably’ settled

 

A local politician (panchayat member), Biswanath Singh, is said to have intervened to settle matters.

 

On May 9, 2019, Giyasuddin and Anwarul were called to the block development officer (BDO’s) office to settle matters. The BDO, the panchayat member and others were present.

 

"They have settled the matter on mutual understanding,” Md Anjar Alam Rahi, a government contractor who was present at the BDO’s office, told a local daily. “They agreed on Rs 5,000-Rs 15,000 from the BSF and Rs 10,000 from the BDO office [as compensation]."

 

Police sources said they visited the victims’ house a day after the complaint was lodged. "The locals and the victims' family, however, said they wanted an amicable settlement by withdrawing the complaint and did not want police interference in the matter,” said the source in Goalpokher police station. (The source does not want to be named.)

 

Meanwhile, District Magistrate of North Dinajpur, Arvind Meena, has decided to write to Inspector General Kathat of the BSF against “deterioration of relations” between BSF personnel and Goalpokher civilians. "We heard about the incident at Nargun village in Goalpokher,” Meena said. “We will send a letter to the IG, BSF, North Bengal, about the problems faced by the villagers. On the other hand, we are also seeking a report from the SP of the district."

 

“It is shameful that BSF jawans were checking whether villagers were eating beef,” said Ghulam Rabbani, West Bengal’s minister in-charge for panchayat and rural development. “It is not the duty of the BSF. They should pay attention to the borders instead of interfering in the lifestyle of common people.”

 

“I have brought the issue to the notice of North Bengal Frontier IG, BSF, Mr Kathat and Inspector General of Police of North Bengal, Anand Kumar, demanding justice for the innocent villagers,” Rabbani added.

 

Former Raiganj member of parliament from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Muhammad Salim, has also decided to take up the issue with high-ranking officials of the BSF and demand justice for the victims.

 

(Gupta is a Siliguri-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)

 

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

 

Anwarul Haque (left) and his father Mohammad Giyasuddin (right) were allegedly beaten by Border Security Force personnel for carrying beef in West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district.

 

Islampur (North Dinajpur), West Bengal: A father-son duo were allegedly beaten by Border Security Force (BSF) personnel for carrying beef in Islampur town of West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district.

 

The incident occurred on May 5, 2019, near the Indo-Bangladesh border when Mohammad Giyasuddin (65), and his son Anwarul Haque (30) were returning from a weekly market where they had bought the beef for a family gathering. Giyasuddin’s brother Mohammad Tajimuddin (45) was also with the duo but fled saying he was going for a drink of water.

 

FactChecker.in contacted Inspector General of the BSF, North Bengal, Ajmal Singh Kathat, but he refused comment. The BSF is India’s primary border defense agency, which can be requisitioned by state governments for law and order purposes, as it has been in West Bengal during the ongoing elections.

 

This is the fifth incident of cow-related violence recorded in 2019, and the 128th since 2010, according to the FactChecker.in database that tracks such crimes. Of these, 98% occurred after May 2014 when the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power. Nationwide, 71% of those attacked were Muslim and 13% were Dalit, the FactChecker.in database shows.

 

This is the second incident of cow-related violence in North Dinajpur district in recent years, according to our database. In June 2017, three people were lynched by villagers after they were allegedly caught stealing cows from a house.

 

Giyasuddin is unemployed and looks after the house. The family of eight live in Narboone village of North Dinajpur district.

 

Anwarul works as a labourer in New Delhi, as do three of his brothers. He had returned to Islampur to cast his vote in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections and to attend a family wedding.

 

At around 11.30 am on May 5, 2019, the three men were returning from the Debiganj weekly market where they had purchased 15 kg of beef for the ‘rukhsati’ (sending off) of the bride (daughter-in-law of Giyasuddin), they told FactChecker. They were stopped at the Sripur BSF outpost by two BSF jawans from the 171 Battalion and asked to reveal the contents of their bag. The men complied and showed them the beef.

 

Under the West Bengal Animal Slaughter Act, 1950, animal slaughter without necessary documents and at unauthorised places is prohibited, attracting a jail term of up to six months and/or a fine of Rs 1,000. Consumption of beef is not prohibited in the state.

 

“We told them that we were carrying beef as we had a family function,” Anwarul told FactChecker.in. “We even asked them to visit our house to verify this, but they refused to budge and demanded a trade licence. I don’t have a licence as I don’t sell beef.”

 

“Upon seeing the meat, the BSF personnel assaulted Anwarul and took us to the outpost near Paulpara Chowk,” Tajimuddin told FactChecker.in. “While my brother and I were asked to wait outside, Anwarul was taken inside and physically tortured.”

 

The 30-year-old was beaten on his back with a stick, and slapped and kicked for about 10-15 minutes, he said. “The jawans even kept a knife on my fingers and threatened that they will chop them off,” Anwarul said. “One of the BSF men said, ‘No, don’t do that! He will survive and will put us in trouble later’.”

 

"The BSF personnel further blackmailed us that they would take us to the border and kill us. When they started taking us to the border, I refused to go and they summoned more colleagues of theirs,” Anwarul said. “In no time, 6-7 personnel reached the spot. They covered my face with a piece of cloth and started beating me up again."

 

Giyasuddin was also beaten with a stick seven times on his shoulder. “We were thrashed just for carrying beef,” Giyasuddin said. “We suspect some Hindus may have informed the BSF about our plans, as we have to take the Hindu-dominated route. It is intolerance in the name of cow vigilantism.”

 

“When I reached the spot, the BSF personnel were assaulting Anwarul in front of the locals,” panchayat member Biswanath Singh, who witnessed the attack, said. “One more vehicle with BSF personnel reached the spot and they warned the villagers not to repeat such an act.”

 

Singh said they repeatedly told the jawans about the gathering planned by the victims’ family. “After repeated pleading, they took Anwarul and his father to the border and buried the meat right there,” he added.

 

Tajimuddin fled the scene under the pretext of drinking water. He returned home and informed locals about the incident. That night, Tajimuddin filed a complaint with the Goalpokher police.

 

Anwarul was admitted to the Islampur hospital, and discharged a week later, on May 12, 2019; Giyasuddin was taken to the Lodhi primary health centre for medical aid and treatment.

 

Matter ‘amicably’ settled

 

A local politician (panchayat member), Biswanath Singh, is said to have intervened to settle matters.

 

On May 9, 2019, Giyasuddin and Anwarul were called to the block development officer (BDO’s) office to settle matters. The BDO, the panchayat member and others were present.

 

"They have settled the matter on mutual understanding,” Md Anjar Alam Rahi, a government contractor who was present at the BDO’s office, told a local daily. “They agreed on Rs 5,000-Rs 15,000 from the BSF and Rs 10,000 from the BDO office [as compensation]."

 

Police sources said they visited the victims’ house a day after the complaint was lodged. "The locals and the victims' family, however, said they wanted an amicable settlement by withdrawing the complaint and did not want police interference in the matter,” said the source in Goalpokher police station. (The source does not want to be named.)

 

Meanwhile, District Magistrate of North Dinajpur, Arvind Meena, has decided to write to Inspector General Kathat of the BSF against “deterioration of relations” between BSF personnel and Goalpokher civilians. "We heard about the incident at Nargun village in Goalpokher,” Meena said. “We will send a letter to the IG, BSF, North Bengal, about the problems faced by the villagers. On the other hand, we are also seeking a report from the SP of the district."

 

“It is shameful that BSF jawans were checking whether villagers were eating beef,” said Ghulam Rabbani, West Bengal’s minister in-charge for panchayat and rural development. “It is not the duty of the BSF. They should pay attention to the borders instead of interfering in the lifestyle of common people.”

 

“I have brought the issue to the notice of North Bengal Frontier IG, BSF, Mr Kathat and Inspector General of Police of North Bengal, Anand Kumar, demanding justice for the innocent villagers,” Rabbani added.

 

Former Raiganj member of parliament from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Muhammad Salim, has also decided to take up the issue with high-ranking officials of the BSF and demand justice for the victims.

 

(Gupta is a Siliguri-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)

 

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

 

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1 Response

  1. Vinay Tandon says:

    Not understood what the “compensation’ was paid for?
    If this is recorded, then it becomes clear evidence to prosecute the BSF people involved.
    NO?
    But, maybe we expect too much of our criminal-justice system?

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