Perhaps the most recognisable image of BSF atrocities is 15-year-old Felani Khatuns’s body hanging motionlessly on a barbwire fence after the guards shot her on Jan 7, 2011. Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee
A special court set up by India's Border Security Force has found its troops accused of killing Bangladeshi girl Felani Khatun not guilty of murder.
BSF's 181 Battalion constable Amiya Ghosh, the only accused in the killing, could not be found guilty because of 'inconclusive and insufficient' evidence against him.
A five-man BSF General Security Forces court headed by its Assam-Meghalaya frontier DIG (Communication) SP Trivedi conducted the hearings at Sonari BSF camp near the North Bengal town of Cooch Bihar from Aug 13.
BSF officials said that the proceedings of the GSF court have been forwarded for final approval of the Director General because the case has been seen as "extra sensitive".
"We can make a formal announcement only after the DG's decision," a BSF official said but on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to brief the press.
He was not willing to share details of the proceedings of the GSF court, but insisted that the charges against Amiya Ghosh could not be "clinching".
On Jan 7, 2011, 15-year-old Felani was shot dead by a trooper of BSF’s Choudhuryhat camp while trying to cross the barbed-wire fencing at Anantapur border point in Kurigram’s Phulbarhi Upazila on her way back to Bangladesh.
Her body was left hanging from the fence for quite a while.
The killing had provoked huge outrage in both Bangladesh and India.
Felani's father and relatives testified in the case. Father Nurul Islam is disappointed with the verdict. Speaking to bdnews24.com, he said, “We want fair justice.”
Photo credit: Shib Shankar Chatterjee
West Bengal-based rights group MASUM's Kirity Ray lashed out at the BSF for 'unleashing a reign of terror ' on the border and said Felani was a victim of it.
"The BSF trial was a sham," he alleged.
It was the first instance of BSF trying any of its personnel despite frequent border killings.
Public Prosecutor of the Kurigram district judge court SM Abraham Lincoln who was helping Felani’s family said it would be ‘very unfortunate’ if the BSF Director General approved this verdict.
“It can encourage BSF’s mindless attitude, giving the killings legality,” he feared.
He, however, said they would not be able to appeal against the judgment as India filed the case against the BSF personnel and the trial had been conducted in a special court.
“We (Felani’s father and him) don’t have the chance to appeal. But the Bangladesh government or Indian people can create pressure on the Indian government for an appeal”.