New Delhi: An inquiry has been ordered into a clash and firing incident between cattle smugglers and troopers of border guarding force SSB which led to the killing of a civilian while over a dozen others, including 11 jawans, were injured along the Indo-Nepal border.
The incident occurred yesterday evening in the border Totaramjote village in Darjeeling district of West Bengal when a joint team of SSB and customs officials, based on an input, raided the village and found 200 cattle being herded and tied to bamboo plantation, in an attempt to later smuggle the livestock across to Bangladesh.
While the Sashastra Seema Bal headquarters here has ordered a Court of Inquiry, the Union Home Ministry has also asked for a detailed report into the incident.
The clash took place after the raiding team inquired from the villagers about the ownership of the cattle but after no one claimed responsibility, the troops unleashed them and started taking them to their nearest border post at Baramaniramjote, SSB’s Siliguri Frontier said in a statement.
They claimed that soon after this, a strong squad of 800 people, including smugglers, from around the village attacked the over 40-personnel SSB and customs team and started heckling it and tried to snatch away weapons.
Some people in the mob, the force said, “tried to molest the lady constables.”
SSB said the villagers were armed with weapons like “lathis, bhalas, daus, khukris and katta” as they “roughed up” the women SSB personnel in the team.
After a few shots were fired from the mob, it said the force commander fired eight rounds and later it was found that one civilian was killed while over a dozen others were injured in the melee.
“We have ordered a Court of Inquiry into the incident. This was a properly planned initiative by our local commanders and we would be able to comment further after the probe is over. We are in touch with West Bengal police and administration,” SSB Director General B D Sharma told PTI.
Cattle smuggling is a regular crime committed in these areas and the border villages and locations here are notorious for such incidents and smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had recently told border guarding forces to strictly check this menace and clamp it down at any cost.
A total of three civilians, 11 SSB personnel, including three women constables, have been injured in the incident.
SSB said the injured personnel, belonging to its 41st battalion, suffered “blunt injuries caused by sticks and close combat ghastly scratch marks.”
The state police has registered a FIR at the Naxalbari police station in Darjeeling.