Afroza with BSF additional director-general BD Sharma at Calcutta airport on Saturday
New Delhi, Sept. 14: A nine-year-old returned home to Bangladesh today on the same flight as a BSF delegation, which is hoping her reunion with her family after four years and the promise of justice for a five-year-old child killed on the border in 2011 will help its talks with the Border Guard Bangladesh.
The biannual dialogue between the two border forces began today in Dhaka and ends on September 19.
Felani Islam, 5, was killed allegedly by a BSF bullet on January 7, 2011, the photograph of her body hanging upside down on a barbed wire fence at the Choudharyhat border outpost making headlines in both countries.
Commandant Amiya Ghosh of 181 Battalion, accused of killing the child, was pronounced “not guilty” at a General Security Force Court (GSFC) trial in Cooch Behar last week. Outrage in Bangladesh prompted the Indian high commission to promise a review, newspapers in Dhaka reported.
Last evening, BSF director-general Subhash Joshi ordered Ghosh’s retrial while readying for talks with his BGB counterpart, Major General Aziz Ahmed.
By ordering the retrial before its 20-member team left for Bangladesh, the BSF may have saved itself the embarrassment of being seen to be acting under pressure later.
On the same flight from Calcutta as the BSF team was nine-year-old Afroza, who has been in India since her mother Manowara Begum was arrested with both her children under the Foreigners Act on the border in January 2009.
Manowara and Afroza, then 5, were sent first to Balurghat and then to Murshidabad where the mother fell ill and died in October 2010.
Afroza, alone and in a foreign land, was “adopted” by an NGO and was being educated at Daya Bari in Nadia district. Her brother, Munna, who was 6 when their mother was arrested, had been sent back home earlier that year from Balurghat.
“Today, Afroza was united with her father, brother and aunt in Calcutta and sent on the same flight home as the BSF delegation,” said a BSF source. “The BGB has promised Afroza will complete her graduation at government expense,” the sources said.
On the first day of the border dialogue, the two sides met for the Maitree Cup volleyball tournament. The formal talks begin tomorrow.