In what seems like a fall of a star, celebrated BSF commando, Anubhav Atrey, is facing court martial for killing a civilian. He is the assistant commandant from the 113 Battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF) and some of us might have seen him in a documentary made by the National Geographic Channel.
Atrey got into trouble last year while on a lookout against gold smugglers on the India-Bangladesh border. He is accused of killing a civilian – a Bangladeshi teenager – in an attempt of self-defense while dealing with the suspects of smuggling.
On the night of May 13, 2016, the jawans deployed at Banpur post of BSF in Krishnaganj village of West Bengal’s Nadia district were informed about a possible gold smuggling incident was to take place near the Indo-Bangla fence. The information was passed through the intelligence branch of the BSF. A team of 7 officers, armed with pump action guns, a non-lethal weapon, and INSAS rifles set out on the lookout.
As the final showdown began, Atrey heard the suspects discussing an attack on the officers. Realizing the life-threatening situation for one his juniors, Atrey fired two shots from one of his non-lethal weapons. The second shot hit a boy who died in Bangladeshi territory. He was later informed that the boy was a civilian.
The killing infuriated Bangladesh which resulted in action against an officer who was once considered a hero. A report in India Today states sources say that Atrey became a scapegoat as this is a classic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Anubhav Atrey, who ranked 4th in the all-India ranking in the central armed force examination in 2010, informed the court of inquiry,
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There were 12-15 gold smugglers who came close to the fence with 2 carrying packets of gold articles to be thrown across to the huts in the Indian side, while 10 of them were carrying sharpedged weapons (machetes or da). But at 10 am, as the smugglers came close to the fence, the BSF constable in the team rushed without any arms to apprehend the suspects.
Anubhav Atrey has been compared to Major Leetul Gogoi who tied a civilian to army’s jeep in Kashmir in order to safely pass through the rioters. However, Sanjiv Sood, Former ADG with BSF informed India Today,
Major Gogoi got an unfair backing, as he was in violation of law. But in this case, Anubhav Atrey went according to the principle of law…The inquiry has let him down. He has to now face the harrowing process of court martial. I believe a wrong message has gone to jawans and officers.
The dialogues against Atrey are ripe as it is said that the court of inquiry has been fair. The officer had left a job at Kendriya Vidyalaya to join BSF, however, now he is reported to regret the decision while facing court martial.