Three people were killed and at least 16 others suffered bullet wounds yesterday as members of a BGB patrol team opened fire following a scuffle with locals in Thakurgaon's Baharampur village.
Md Moniruzzaman, superintendent of police in Thakurgaon, said that acting on a tip-off, a patrol team of Border Guard Bangladesh went to the village in Haripur upazila by a locally made three-wheeler in the morning to seize smuggled cattle.
At one stage, the BGB personnel got into an altercation with villagers, who encircled them. The BGB men failed to calm the villagers, and opened fire, the SP told this newspaper over the phone.
Speaking at a press conference last night, Lt Col Tuhin Mohammad Masud, commanding officer of the 50 BGB Battalion, said BGB personnel had to fire in self defence as a gang of cattle smugglers attacked them at Baharampur village.
The BGB men seized five smuggled cows at about 10:20am. As they were taking those to Betna camp, the cattle smugglers intercepted them and tried to snatch away the animals, he said at Thakurgaon district BGB headquarters.
The BGB men tried to calm them in vain. At one stage, they fired blanks to scare away the smugglers. But it didn't work, and they were compelled to open fire, Masud added.
The official, however, did not say how many bullets were fired during the incident. He said he would inform the media about it later.
Replying to a query, Masud said the BGB recently stepped up its patrol to check smuggling and trafficking along the border. Being aggrieved at this, a nexus of smugglers and traffickers might have created such a situation in a planned way.
However, villagers alleged that BGB personnel from Betna Camp shot at them as they tried to prevent the BGB team from taking their cattle to the camp.
The dead were identified as Nabab, 35, son of Nazrul; Sadek, 45, son of Jahiruddin from Ruhia village; and Joynul Islam, 12, son of Nur Islam from Baharampur village.
Nabab and Sadek died on the spot and Joynul on way to hospital.
Amirul Islam, officer-in-charge of Haripur Police Station, confirmed the deaths.
The injured, including three women and an SSC examinee, were admitted to Abdur Rahim Medical College Hospital in Dinajpur. Three of them were in a critical condition, said doctors.
Talking to this correspondent, a number of villagers said BGB members of Betna Camp were conducting a drive at Baharampur village and adjacent areas since yesterday morning to seize cattle smuggled from India.
Around 10:30am, Habibar Rahman from Baharampur village and several others from his area and Ruhia village were bringing cattle to Jadurani haat for selling those at the large cattle market in the upazila.
When they reached near Jadurani College, about half a kilometre from the market, BGB members seized five cows, including two of Habibar, claiming those were smuggled in.
They claimed that the BGB members didn't let go of the cattle though they were shown legal papers on the ownership of the animals.
As the BGB personnel were taking the cattle to Betna Camp by a locally made three-wheeler around 11:30pm, a group of locals, including women, intercepted the vehicle at Baharampur village, said the villagers.
At one stage, a scuffle broke out between the BGB men and locals. The BGB personnel then opened fire, leaving Nabab and Sadek dead on the spot and around 20 others injured.
The wounded, including two women -- Joygun and Nur Nahar, were taken to Haripur Upazila Health Complex.
Later, 17 of the injured, including 12-year-old Joynul, were sent to M Abdur Rahim Medical College Hospital in Dinajpur. Joynul died on the way.
Prof Abdus Salam, head of surgery department at the hospital, said 16 bullet-hit people, including three women, were admitted there since yesterday noon.
The condition of three of them, including SSC examinee Abdul Kashem, 18, was critical. He suffered a bullet wound in the head and was referred to Rangpur Medical College Hospital, said the doctor.
Salam also said several of the injured were hit by bullets in abdomen and waist.
After visiting the spot, KM Kamruzzaman Selim, deputy commissioner of Thakurgaon, told reporters that a seven-member body, headed by Additional District Magistrate Shilabrata Karmakar, was formed to probe the incident.
The committee was asked to submit a report as early as possible.