South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a democratic regional network of human rights defenders expresses its strong condemnation of the recent acquittal of a constable of the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) by a special West Bengal court in the killing of Felani Khatun.
Felani Khatun, was a 15 year old Bangladeshi girl who was killed in January 2011 on the Indo-Bangla border near Choudhuryhat border outpost in Cooch Behar after an Indian BSF constable opened fire at her whilst she was trying to cross back over to Bangladesh. The accused was identified as Amiya Ghosh of the BSF 181 Battalion and charged with culpable homicide. The General Security Force Court trial conducted by the BSF returned a verdict of not guilty in 2013. A revision trial by the BSF court returned the same verdict on 02 July 2015 on the same grounds of ‘inconclusive and insufficient’ evidence
SAHR is deeply concerned that although the latest verdict of not guilty is subject to revision and approval by an Additional Director General that this review too would be a parody of justice. SAHR urges the Additional Director General to act according to the national laws and international obligations of India in protecting human rights and deliver a decision which is both just and humane.
SAHR also condemns the failure of the state machinery in punishing an absolute violation of the right to life and in making a mockery of both the law and justice. Further, it notes that the brutal killing of Felani Khatun is part of dozens of such atrocities and violations of human rights including torture and extra judicial killings by the BSF which continue to remain unpunished.
Such offences committed by BSF on unarmed civilians are crimes under national laws and should be brought to trial in a transparent manner in national criminal courts rather than in special courts in which they receive special consideration.
SAHR calls upon the government of India to ensure that Felani Khatun and her family receives justice and that the perpetrators of this heinous killing of an underage girl be given the maximum punishment under Indian law. On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights
Hina Jilani Dr. Nimalka Fernando