Nation disappointed at Felani verdictStaff Correspondent
The acquittal of the lone accused in the Felani Khatun killing case by a special court of Indian border forces has drawn strong criticism from all quarters and the people in general in Bangladesh.
A number of cabinet members already expressed their resentment at the verdict that acquitted BSF constable Amiya Ghosh of killing Felani, a teenage Bangladeshi girl in the Kurigram border on January 7, 2011.
Jurists, rights activists and foreign policy analysts were also critical about the role of Bangladesh officials, saying they had failed to act sincerely during the trial that had come to nought.
They said they had hoped that India would set an example by punishing the BSF constable for the killing but the verdict made a ‘mockery’ of justice.
A special court of India’s Border Security Force acquitted Amiya Ghosh of the charge of killing Felani Khatun.
The General Security Forces Court of the Border Security Force in Koch Bihar district of India on Thursday said that BSF constable Amiya Ghosh was not guilty of shooting the 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl as she had crossed into Bangladesh from the Indian side in January 2011, the Associated Press reported from Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.
The Indian border guards shot dead Felani when she was crossing the border into Bangladesh over barbed-wire fences at Anantapur border in Kurigram on January 7, 2011.
The incident and a photograph of Felani being stuck shot dead in the barbed-wire fence caused local and international outcry.
She was one of 214 Bangladeshis killed in the borders between January 2009 and June 2013 after the Awami League-led government had assumed office.
In response to media reports on the Felani case, the Indian high commission spokesperson clarified that the trial of the case by a BSF court of Inquiry was the first step of a quasi-judicial process. The due process of law, which has provision for appeal and review by the competent authority, will be followed. Justice will be delivered to those who are found guilty.
Giving his reaction to the Indian court’s verdict, National Human Rights Commission chairman Mizanur Rahman on Saturday said, ‘It is a travesty of what they called trial...it is really a matter of disappointment and frustration not only for Felani’s family but also for the whole nation.’
The Indians failed to do justice, he said.
The NHRC chief said that the Indian authorities had also violated the international norms by failing to ensure justice to unarmed people.
‘I will write to my Indian counterpart so that they intervene into the matter seeking a review of the verdict,’ Mizanur Rahman told New Age.
He also urged the foreign ministry of Bangladesh to move with the Falani issue in order to ensure justice to her family as well as to all Bangladeshis.
Barrister Rafiq-ul-Haque said the government should move with an appeal to review the verdict.
Dhaka University’s international relations professor Delwar Hossain said, ‘The beginning of the trial raised hope but the verdict frustrated us all.’
‘We did not expect such a verdict because the fact is Felani was shot dead,’ said Delwar.
Supreme Court lawyer Tuhin Malik said the BSF guards had finally got impunity officially after the verdict that could make them more trigger-happy.
Tuhin urged the government to take the case to the international community so that they put pressure on Indian authorities.
If the Bangladesh government could not react properly, the people would lose their faith in the government as it failed to achieve any major success in the bilateral relations with India, he said.
Tuhin said he had protested when the charge was framed under section 304 of Indian Penal Code instead of 302 of the code.
He said all relevant documents had proved that Amiya Ghosh had opened fire that caused the death of Felani. ‘Then how could he be acquitted,’ he asked.
The home minister, Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, on Saturday also said the Felani murder verdict had shocked the people of the country.
‘It is unfortunate…disgrace for the two countries. We demanded a fair trial from the authorities concerned in India,’ he said while laying the foundation stone of Nageshwari police station in Kurigram.
About two years and eight months after the incident, the Indian General Security Forces Court, which is equivalent of a military court martial, on August 13 2013 began the trial at the 181 BSF Battalion headquarters in Koch Bihar after an investigation of the killing.
The trial continued till Thursday when the court acquitted Amiya Ghosh, the only accused in the case, saying that he was ‘innocent.’
The BSF soldier was released immediately after the verdict, the BBC Bangla reported.
Indian border guard authorities, however, did not disclose anything officially in this regard.
The General Security Forces Court recorded the deposition of Felani’s father Nurul Islam, among others.
In his reaction to the verdict, Felani’s father told New Age, ‘I am utterly disappointed... I will seek justice from the international court.’
After the investigation, the charge sheet was submitted against Amiya Ghosh under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the laws governing the Indian border guards, according to media reports.
A senior Border Guard Bangladesh officer told New Age the BSF had unofficially informed BGB authorities that they had only completed the first phase of the trial.
The full verdict would be sent to the inspector general of eastern region, from where it would be sent for law ministry for vetting.
The ministry would send it back to the BSF’s director general office with opinion.
The BGB officials said then the BSF chief would to decide whether the verdict would be approved.
‘We will act after the final stage of the trial,’ a senior BGB official, who deals the matter with BSF, told New Age.
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