Front Line Defenders (FLD) alleged that human rights defender Shila Bewa was harassed and intimidated by Border Security Force (BSF) officers while putting up posters around the river bank areas of Toltoli village in Ghospara Gram Panchayet, West Bengal. She campaigns against grave violations of human rights by the state, including extrajudicial killings. She is also an active member of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a human rights NGO based in West Bengal.
Shila Bewa started her campaigning after her husband, Imajuddin Mondal, was killed by a BSF personnel on 17 April 2015. She continues to be steadfast in her struggle to seek justice for her husband’s murder notwithstanding the repeated threats she has received from the police and the severe economic hardship she has faced since her husband’s death.
Around noon on 25 January 2019, Shila Bewa was verbally abused by an officer of Battalion number 43 under Farajipara Border Out Post of the BSF while distributing posters printed by an organisation called Amra Simantabasi (We the Bordering People). The posters were being distributed as part of a campaign protesting against the aggressive behaviour and conduct of the BSF, which has been disrupting the livelihood and safety of the local communities.
Shila Bewa’s assailant also took away all her posters by force during the encounter and tore down some of the others she had already pasted up despite her objections and insistence that her activity was in accordance with the law. Shila Bewa proceeded to submit a written complaint of the incident at the Jalangi Police Station on the same day, but failed to get a receipt.
FLD says it recognises this harassment and intimidation of Shila Bewa as the latest incident in a series of targeted attacks and abuses against MASUM and its associates which it believes are solely motivated by their peaceful and legitimate work for human rights in West Bengal. These incidents have been ongoing since 2008 and have increased in frequency in the last few years.