The Border Security Force on Friday ordered a re-trial into the killing of a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl shot when she was trying to scale the fence along the Indo-Bangla border in West Bengal’s Coochbehar in 2011.
A picture of the girl hanging on the barbed fence that separates the two countries had provoked international outrage in January 2011, forcing the BSF to agree to introduce non-lethal weapons for the border guards.
According to media reports in Bangladesh, Felani Khatun’s cries for help when she got stuck in the fence allegedly attracted the attention of Constable Amiya Ghosh who shot her and left her hanging by the fence till she died.
But a General Security Force Court -- set up to inquire into the BSF firing on the unarmed girl under public pressure -- cleared the constable of all charges.
The verdict was formally delivered on 6 September, casting a shadow over relations between the two countries in the backdrop of India already unable to keep its promises to Dhaka due to domestic political compulsions.
Chairman of National Human Rights Commission Mizanur Rahman called it a “cruel joke played out with the whole nation, our people, not just with Felanee’s departed soul or her family.
The BSF has been reluctant to explain the grounds on which the constable was acquitted. Or the grounds on which the verdict was set aside.
BSF director general Subhash Joshi -- who would be travelling to Bangladesh for talks with Bangladesh Border Guards this weekend -- was not available for comments.
A BSF spokesperson said in a statement that the verdict had been reviewed by legal experts. “The competent authority has not agreed with the findings of court and has decided to hold revision trial,” the BSF statement said.
An official said this meant a fresh court would be instituted and a re-trial held.