Bangladesh: Boycotting Indian Products to Protest Brutality at Border

In January 2012, a 12 minute long uncut video of brutality on a Bangladeshi cattle trader by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) (Warning: Graphic content) went viral on the Internet. Originally uploaded by an Indian human rights organization Masum, this video attracted widespread condemnation from Bangladeshis.

According to reports by Human Rights organizations Indian BSF has killed more than 1,000 Bangladeshis in last ten years which has been condemned by international communities.

The Indian media were quick to point fingers [bn] at Pakistan for the release of the video, which spread more fuel to the fire. Himu at Sachalayatan quips [bn]:

কিন্তু আনন্দবাজারের রিপোর্টে বিএসএফের এই মারধরের সমালোচনার কোনো গন্ধ নেই, তার ভিডিও ছড়িয়ে পড়া নিয়েই তাদের যত মাথাব্যথা।

In the Anandabazar report there is no effort to condemn this brutality, they are concerned only how the video got leaked.
Graph showing the number of killings by BSF from March 2009 to February 2012. Image courtesy Dhushor Godhuli

Graph showing the number of killings by BSF from March 2009 to February 2012. Image courtesy Dhushor Godhuli

He adds [bn]:

আমাদের দেশের লোককে বিএসএফ এভাবে পেটায় বাংলাদেশীদের ব্যাপারে তাদের সামাজিক ধারণা, প্রশিক্ষণ, নির্দেশনা আর অভিজ্ঞতার ওপর ভর দিয়ে দাঁড়িয়ে। বিএসএফ বাংলাদেশীদের সমপর্যায়ের মানুষ জ্ঞান করে না। পৃথিবীতে বহু বড় দেশের সাথে ছোটো গরীব দেশের সীমান্ত রয়েছে, সেখানে সীমান্ত রক্ষীরা কিশোরদের গুলি করে মারে না, যুবকদের ন্যাংটা করে পিটায় না। এই মার বিএসএফ গরুচালানীদের দিচ্ছে না, এই মার ভারতের আমলাযন্ত্র দিচ্ছে বাংলাদেশ রাষ্ট্রের নাগরিককে। [..] এই পীড়নের পেছনে সবচেয়ে বড় যে চালিকাশক্তি, সেটা যত না ঘৃণা, তারচেয়ে বেশি তাচ্ছিল্য।

The BSF tortures our people standing on the basis of what they think about Bangladeshis socially, their experience, and according to their training and direction. The BSF does not treat Bangladeshis as equal. There are many places in the world where there are borders of a large country with a small one. But their border patrol do not fire on adolescents, torture naked youths. This thrashing is not by BSF to cattle smugglers, but the Indian bureaucracy to the Bangladeshis. [..] The main driving force behind this brutality is not only hatred, but apathy.

Blogger Dhushor Godhuli [bn] talks about an archive where all the atrocities of BSF are being chronicled. The blogger points out that the claims of the number of deaths are different between Indian and Bangladeshi authorities. The actual numbers quoted by the human rights organizations are much higher.

The recent remarks by the BSF chief that the shootings will not stop has created much more anger amongst Bangladeshis. So the netizens have decided to launch a campaign to stop the killings at border. Blogger Himu writes [bn]:

মার্চ ১ হোক আমাদের ভারত বনধের দিন। এই দিন আমরা ভারতের কোনো জিনিস কিনবো না, ভারতের কোনো সেবা নেবো না, ভারতের কোনো চ্যানেল দেখবো না। আগের আটত্রিশ দিন আসুন আমরা এই ডাক ছড়িয়ে দিই, সবাইকে জানাই। পরিচিত সবাইকে বলি, নিজেদের আত্মসম্মানের কথা স্মরণ করিয়ে দিই। আমরা কুকুর নই, আমরা মানুষ। আমাদের মানুষের মর্যাদা দিতে হবে।

Let March 1, 2012, be the day to Boycott India. On this day we will not buy anything Indian, will not use any Indian service, will not watch Indian TV channels. Let us spread the words, let everybody know. Let us remind everybody of their self respect. We are not dogs, but human beings. You have to respect us as human beings.
Image courtesy Oli Syed Mahbub

Image courtesy Oli Syed Mahbub

In another post Himu explains [bn] why the boycott is needed:

এই কর্মসূচি সীমান্তে বাংলাদেশী নাগরিকদের ভারতীয় সীমান্তরক্ষী বাহিনী কর্তৃক নির্বিচার হত্যা ও নির্যাতনের প্রতিবাদ হিসেবে পালিত হচ্ছে।

[..] প্রশ্ন উঠতে পারে, আমরা অল্প কয়েকজন মানুষ এই কর্মসূচি পালন করলে ভারতের কী এসে যাবে? [..] এর উত্তর হচ্ছে, এই বর্জন কর্মসূচিতে আমরা যেন একদিনেই অভীষ্ট লাভের স্বপ্ন না দেখি।[..] এই বর্জন আমাদের হাতে একটি শান্তিপূর্ণ কিন্তু শক্তিশালী অস্ত্র, এর নিয়মিত চর্চা এবং প্রচার আমাদের শক্তিবৃদ্ধি করবে, এবং ভারতের রাজনীতিক ও আমলাযন্ত্রের কাছে ক্রমশ শক্তিশালী বার্তা পৌঁছাবে।

This boycott is being undertaken in protest of the wanton killings and tortures of Indian Border Force on Bangladeshis. [..] Questions may arise, if only some people starts this campaign what impact will it bring to India. [..] The answer is that we don't expect that we will get the result in a day. [..] This boycott is a peaceful but strong tool in our hands. It will gradually send a strong message to the political and bureaucratic powerhouses of India.

Mukti blog does not think that such boycott is really going to work up the Indian businesses enough to lobby the Indian government to discipline BSF. However, the blogger adds:

Hmm, I suppose some folks will still believe that, just as others will continue to believe that Indian foreign policy establishment is always scheming to subjugate Bangladesh. But to the more reality-based-people, I submit that boycotting Indian goods has limited effectiveness beyond symbolism.

And yet, the energy and passion behind this activism shouldn’t be underestimated. This kind of citizens’ activism — initiated by bloggers — can actually make a difference.

Diganta responds in a comment in the above post:

BSF has built up what I can call world’s largest extortion racket. Only way to stop this could be to legalize cattle trade between India and Bangladesh. [..]

Image courtesy Asif Mohiuddin

Image courtesy Asif Mohiuddin

Blogger Asif Mohiuddinat endorses the boycott saying people should join it out of humanity, not nationalist jingoism. He appeals to Indians:

ভারতীয় নাগরিক বন্ধুদের কাছে অনুরোধ জানাচ্ছি, অবিলম্বে মানবতাবিরোধী এইসকল কর্মকান্ড বন্ধ করতে আপনারা সোচ্চার হন। আপনারা আমাদের বুকে গুলি চালাতে আপনার ট্যাক্সের টাকা দেবেন না। আপনাদের সরকারকে বলুন অবিলম্বে এসব বন্ধ করতে। আমরা জানি আপনারা কখনই আপনাদের বিএসএফ এর পৈশাচিক বর্বরতার পক্ষের নন, কিন্তু সেটা পরিষ্কার ভাষায় আমরা শুনতে চাই।

I am appealing to the friendly Indian citizens, please raise your voice to stop these acts against humanity. Kindly do not let your tax money waste bullets on our body. Please ask your government to stop these killings. We know that you are not in favor of these brutality by BSF, but we want to hear it loud and clear.


  • […] as Bangladeshi hackers defaced Indian border security Force's website in protest of the recent border killings by BSF. When news broke out in Bangladeshi media on February 11, 2012 that Indian hacker groups, […]

  • […] Also published in Global Voices Online […]

  • ziaush shams

    Its no use complaining. We shall have to take all measures by ourselves to stop killing of our citizen by our cruel neighbor.
    We shall have to keep our house in order. We should create such a situation in the border areas so that our people living there are not lured to fall in the trap laid down by Indian traders. First, smuggling of cows into Bangladesh must be stopped. And import of cows in the official formal channel must be made compulsory. It would have been better if cow import could have been banned totally. This may not be possible for price of beef would jump in this days of inflation bringing hardship to common people of low earnings. Second, conducting special survey in the border area, the socio-economic situations of these people must be ascertained. And appropriate development measures should be taken to increase income levels of people living below poverty line for only desperately poor people are employed by local and Indian traders to smuggle in cows. Third, BGB personnel should be trained by those army personnel of ours who have served in UN Peace Keeping Force. This should equip our BGB people in mitigating confrontation with BSF. Fourth, special drive should be taken, under the defense ministry, to augment infrastructural facilities in the border areas at par with BSF facilities. And lastly, curfew should be imposed by BGB in the most trouble spots during night time showing zero tolerance to cattle smuggling by Bangladeshi and Indian traders and their carriers until these measures are implemented in full.  

  • […] than 1,000 Bangladeshis in the last ten years. To protest the killings some bloggers called for a campaign to boycott Indian products and services on March 1, 2012 which got much support […]

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