Trafficking, smuggling at Indo-Bangladesh border discussed

Saturday, November 27, 2010

KOLKATA - The problems of human trafficking, smuggling and sexual harassment of locals by security personnel at the Indo-Bangladesh border were brought into focus by NGOs, researchers, academicians and journalists from the two nations at a conclave here.

Organised by Kolkata-based NGO Sanjog, the two-day event that began Friday saw a general resentment against the Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) personnel who were accused of corruption and sexually abusing women in return of letting them cross the border.

“The BSF and the BDR have been and still are raping girls in their custody but no or little action is taken against them. The system - the government and the security forces - has become rotten,” said Bengal-based NGO Banglar Manabhadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) secretary Kirity Roy.

On the numerous human trafficking cases in various courts, Roy said: “The Indian legal system is strong only on paper but it does not perform.”

According to the participants, there is rampant smuggling of goods right from salt and sugar to fake currency notes and arms across the Indo-Bangladesh border. However, more people from Bangladesh enter India as the eastern neighbour is economically weaker.

“Even if the BDR and BSF rescue trafficked people, the lack of coordination between the two acts as a major hindrance in delivering justice to the victims,” said Salma Ali of the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association.

Thorough investigation of each and every case should be carried out on both sides of the border, Ali said.

The objectives of the consultation at the conclave included sharing of findings from research on the border, facilitating a dialogue between stakeholders like civil society organisations based at the border, anti-trafficking organisations and those who influenced policy to evolve coordinated strategies for action.

Said Indrani Sinha, founder of SANLAAP, a Kolkata-based NGO aiming to protect the rights of the fairer sex: “There are different rates for people on both the sides to enter each other’s territory. The price depends on factors like the products to be smuggled and how strict the officer on duty is.”

Although everybody stressed on an urgent need for better networking and communications between the authorities and locals, some like Additional Superintendent of Bhopal Police Veerendra Mishra suggested the participants ‘walk the talk’.

“Everybody admits that there should be coordination between the local stakeholders but no one is talking about any definite steps or measures,” he said.

“Just criticising the armed forces all the time won’t reap any benefits. There have to be substantiate efforts to achieve the goal of peace,” said Mishra.

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