Today is the seventh death anniversary of Felani Khatun, an adolescent Bangladeshi girl who was shot dead by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) while crossing the Indo-Bangla border into Bangladesh.
Felani was killed on January 7, 2011. A picture of her upside-down body hanging from the barbed wire fence on the border was picked up by the international media and triggered an outcry along with raising questions on border security in the area. The spotlight on border killing led some global news organizations to call the Bangladesh-India border ‘the most dangerous border’ in the world.
The 15-year-old girl, Felani, was returning to Bangladesh with her father as her marriage was arranged in the country. Felani and her father were staying in India’s New Delhi and were trying to cross the border illegally by a ladder.
While crossing, Felani’s dress got stuck in the barbed wire of the border. Panic-stricken, she started screaming as BSF opened fire on her. After she was shot, she begged for water till her death but nobody could reach her due to fear of being shot by BSF.
However, the main accused of the murder Amiya Ghosh and his superior officers have not been convicted to date.
A special trial at General Security Forces Court found Amiya “not guilty” of the brutal murder.
Bangladeshi lawyers had argued that even if Felani was illegally crossing the border, the BSF soldier who shot her used lethal force violating the rules of engagement and international law.
Felani’s father Nurul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune’s Kurigram correspondent that he is yet to get justice for his daughter and he is optimistic about getting justice from the Supreme Court of India.
Kurigram’s Public Prosecutor Abraham Lincoln said the chief justice of Indian Supreme Court received the writ filed by Felani’s father Nurul and fixed January 18 as the date for hearing. Previously, the accused Amiya was acquitted twice.
Meanwhile, after repeated discussions between Bangladesh and India, BSF formally assured Bangladesh that lethal weapons would not be used in the border areas.
However, a total of 403 Bangladeshis were killed, 593 were injured and 468 were abducted by BSF between 2009 and 2017, says Odhikar, a rights group of Bangladesh.