May 7, 2001
Issue


 

COVER
   

Children For Sale
For as little as Rs 3,000, impoverished parents sell their children to adoption centres and unscrupulous operators in Andhra Pradesh, who in turn earn up to Rs 3 lakh from foster families. A look at the people involved, the law and where the process went wrong.

 

 
STATES
   

Amma Turns Red
J. Jayalalitha's hopes for contesting the elections have been dashed with the rejection of her nomination papers. But this does not deter her from stepping up her campaigning efforts for the AIADMK and assuming an aggressive stance.

 

 
NEIGHBOURS
   

Past Tense
The muted reaction of the Government to the massacre of the BSF troops raises many questions. A look at the past skirmishes between the BSF and BDR gives an insight into what led to the heightening of tension at the border.

 

 
BUSINESS
 

Coming To Life
With the end of state monopoly, private insurance companies are offering wider risk coverage and better customer relations.

 

 
PHOTO FEATURE
 

Starting Over
It's been three months since nature shook Gujarat, killing over 30,000 and shattering dreams. Despite government promises and generosity of individuals, rehabilitation is still to touch the lives of many. The story in pictures.

 

 
OTHER STORIES
     
 



 
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NEIGHBOURS: BANGLADESH

Bordering Truth

The barbaric killing of BSF jawans raises disturbing questions about the incident and puts India-Bangladesh relations under severe strain

It is an image that will haunt relations between India and Bangladesh for years to come. The body of a slain Border Security Force (BSF) jawan tied to a pole and carried like an animal carcass. Accompanying it were the grisly visuals of trussed up, mutilated and brutalised bodies of 15 other BSF personnel killed in the Boraibari incident on April 18. Understandably, there was a national outrage.

 

OUTRAGE: Boraibari villagers with the body of a BSF jawan

 

Even as tensions continued to mount last week, with both sides fortifying their borders with additional troops, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came under fire from his own partymen for not taking tough retaliatory action against Bangladesh. Yet almost 10 days after the fracas, instead of clarity there is still enormous confusion over what really caused the worst flare-up on the Indo-Bangladesh border since the 1971 war. There were other searching questions: how did the 16 BSF men die and why were the bodies returned mutilated? Why did the Indian Government do everything to de-escalate the situation, even risking flak for soft-pedalling the issue?

The truth may take awhile in coming but there are indications that the earlier reports about what really happened were misleading. That while Bangladesh did make the first aggressive move, a bungled counter-attack by India well inside Bangladesh's territory may have resulted in the death of the BSF personnel. This could also explain why the Indian Government's response was restrained, both verbally and in military terms.

The 4,096-km border between the two countries has always been tense. In the past six months alone, regular skirmishes between the BSF and its counterpart, the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), have left 32 dead, mostly civilians. Reports of abductions and assaults on women in the villages have been common and local resentment against the troops is high. There is also a dispute since the 1971 war over who has territorial rights to certain pockets of land or enclaves along the irregular border. There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 50 Bangladeshi ones in India.

 

 

BRUTAL END: The bodies of the 16 BSF personnel were badly mutilated

The current hostilities broke out over two such enclaves-one bordering Meghalaya and the other Assam. Trouble began on April 15 at a village called Pyrdiwah in Meghalaya. It is now clear that the BDR, in a surprising show of aggression, moved in to capture it. An entire battalion strength (1,000 men) of the BDR had walked in through the arecanut groves and encircled the 31 BSF personnel guarding the post. The BSF held their ground and waited for reinforcements to be sent. It took a day for three additional companies (each company comprises 100 men) to reach the area. The BSF asked for a flag meeting-the usual practice to settle such adventurism which has happened several times along the border. But the BDR stuck to its stand that Pyrdiwah was part of Bangladesh and asked the BSF for proof that the village was on Indian territory. When the BSF showed them papers, the BDR said they wanted to see original documents, not photocopies.

All along the BDR insisted that the BSF vacate the village and that they would not budge because they had orders from Dhaka. The next day, on April 17, BDR Director-General Fazlur Rahman gave details of the Pyrdiwah thrust and told the media proudly: "We have just completed a mission to restore our territory and sovereignty."

It may have also been a ploy by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed to shake off her pro-India image, which could prove to be a liability in an election year. The Indian response, however, spun things out of control.


 
 
 
Care Today
     METRO TODAY
 
   

MetroScape

Focusing On Art
The brief for participants at
"Exhibit 'A' 2001" organised by the
200-member
Photographers'
Guild of India at the Nehru Centre, Mumbai, was clear—no advertisement and portfolio photos.
more...

Looking Glass

Delhi Poster:
One Page Classics

Calcutta Pub:
London Pub

Bangalore & Mumbai Rock Concert:
Bryan Adams

 

 
    Web Exclusives
DESPATCHES
 

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya reflected optimism about winning the state election when he spoke to INDIA TODAY Senior Editor Sumit Mitra at the CPI(M) headquarters in Kolkata, minutes before rushing off for campaigning.
Excerpts:

 

 
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