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HRW urges India to prosecute border soldiers for torture

Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] on Monday urged [press release] the Indian government to prosecute Border Security Force (BSF) [official website] soldiers that it has long implicated in torture and extrajudicial killings near the Bangladesh border. HRW's plea comes in response to the release of a YouTube video [warning: graphic content] capturing BSF soldiers stripping, tying up and beating a Bangladeshi national caught smuggling cattle from Bangladesh into India. Although Indian law requires the BSF to hand over such lawbreakers to the police, HRW contends that the soldiers "illegally detained and tortured" the man, then left him to return to Bangladesh. Said Meenakshi Ganguly [HRW profile], South Asian director at HRW:

These horrific images of torture on video show what rights groups have long documented: that India's Border Security Force is out of control. The Indian government is well aware of killings and torture at the border, but has never prosecuted the troops responsible. This video provides a clear test case of whether the security forces are above the law in India.
The BSF has so far suspended eight soldiers and ordered an inquiry into the situation. However, despite the video evidence, the Indian government has yet to file criminal charges against any of the soldiers.

In December 2010, HRW and the Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) [advocacy website], a Kolkatta-based NGO that posted the video, and Odhikar [advocacy website], an NGO based in Dhaka, published Trigger Happy: Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border [text, PDF], a report accusing BSF soldiers of torturing both Indians and Bangladeshis. Although the Indian government soon thereafter ordered an end to the use of lethal force by BSF soldiers except in self-defense, allegations of killings and torture have continued. In April 2010, the Cabinet of India approved [JURIST report] the Prevention of Torture Bill [text, PDF] after lengthy legislative delays in an effort to move the country closer to international human rights standards.

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