Felani murder: India's National Human Rights Commission recommends compensation
Subir Bhaumik, from Kolkata, bdnews24.com
Published: 2015-08-31 14:56:51.0 BdST Updated: 2015-08-31 18:45:25.0 BdST
India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended a compensation of half a million Indian rupees it wants the Home Ministry to pay to the family of murdered Bangladeshi girl Felani Khatun.
There could be no justification for shooting at an unarmed girl: NHRC
It has asked for a compliance report from the ministry within six weeks.
"The Commission is very much aware that the security forces are discharging a sensitive job at the borders. They must, however, adhere to some discipline and norms while performing such duty," said the NHRC verdict.
It quoted a BSF order, which asks its troopers to exercise utmost restraint while dealing with unarmed woman and children.
The NHRC said: "In the instant case, the victim was an unarmed girl. So, the BSF constable who shot at her obviously acted in disregard of the circular issued by the BSF Headquarters. Even the Staff Court of Inquiry held that he had exceeded the right of private defense.
"There could be no justification for shooting at an unarmed girl."
The NHRC turned down the Home Ministry's petition to keep in abeyance the issue of compensation.
"The Commission does not find any justification for keeping in abeyance the payment of monetary relief to the next of kin of the deceased till the finalisation of revision of the GSFC (General Security Forces Court) proceedings.
"From the materials available on record, the Commission was satisfied that there could be no justification for shooting at an unarmed girl.
"It was on that basis that the Commission recommended payment of compensation of a sum of Rs 500,000 to the next of kin of the deceased girl," the NHRC verdict said.
West Bengal's Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) had moved the National Human Rights Commission for compensation after a BSF court exonerated Constable Amiya Ghose and let him off on the Felani murder case.
MASUM chief Kirity Roy described the NHRC verdict as a 'moral victory' for those fighting to get justice for Felani.
"Monetary compensation is no solace for the loss of a son or a daughter. But this verdict proves what we have alleged is right and what the BSF has been doing is wrong," said Roy.
He said the BSF should review the case now and bring to book an errant constable for an unprovoked murder.
Indian human rights defenders agreed with Roy.
"Since the NHRC has already recognised that violations of the right to life of Felani Khatun had taken place, the GSFC proceedings shall have no credibility if it fails to take into consideration the findings of the NHRC that there was 'no justification to shoot at an unarmed girl', said Suhas Chakma, director of the Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR).
"The BSF ought to assuage the sentiments of the Bangladeshis by establishing accountability and it is such measures which will strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries," he added.
BSF’s Choudhuryhat camp troopers shot dead 15-year-old Felani on Jan 7, 2011.
She was crossing the barbed-wire fencing at Anantapur border point in Kurhigram’s Phulbarhi Upazila on her way back to Bangladesh.
Her motionless body, dangling on the fence, created huge uproar in both Bangladesh and India.
A special BSF court tried its 181 Battalion constable Amiya Ghose, the only accused in the killing, in 2013.
But it let him off on Sept 6, 2013, saying the evidence was 'inconclusive and insufficient' and in March, 2015, after a retrial.
Meanwhile, Felani's father has moved the Indian Supreme Court seeking justice after the GSFC cleared the BSF trooper of the killing.
West Bengal-based rights group MASUM is assisting the initiative by Dhaka-based Ain-o-Salish Kendra (ASK).
ASK’s Senior Deputy Director Tipu Sultan said Felani’s father filed the plea on Aug 14.
“MASUM’s Executive Director Kirity Ray has informed me that the court has accepted the case,” Sultan told bdnews24.com.
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