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Slain Bangla girl’s father seeks damages

New Delhi, Dec. 4: The Supreme Court has sought the response of the Centre and the BSF on a compensation plea by a Bangladeshi labourer whose 15-year-old daughter was killed, allegedly by a jawan, while illegally crossing the border in Cooch Behar.

Noor Islam has also sought a fair investigation into the 2011 killing of Felani as the jawan, Amiya Ghosh, has been acquitted in an internal BSF trial. A retrial was ordered in September this year after protests. Noor has asked for the retrial to be “fair and transparent”.

A bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and Madan B. Lokur sought replies in four weeks on his plea, in which the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association is a co-petitioner.

Felani’s body was left dangling upside down for five hours on the barbed-wire fence till officers from both sides reached the spot and cut the fence, the petition said.

BSF officers had said then that they had to fire when warnings not to cross over went unheeded.

“Under India’s Border Security Force Act, BSF personnel cannot be prosecuted in civilian courts without approval from the home ministry and that permission is seldom granted. Trials are conducted by internal courts and the hearing and verdicts are not made public,” Noor’s petition, filed through lawyer Aparna Bhat, said.

Noor admitted in the plea that he had illegally crossed over into India several years ago because of poverty.

According to the petition, she and her father were headed back to Bangladesh where he claimed her marriage had been arranged. They were unarmed and while crossing over in Cooch Behar’s Dinhata area, the victim’s clothes got entangled in the wires. Desperate, she called out to her father for help. But her shouts attracted the attention of the BSF and one of the jawans, Ghosh, shot her dead without warning, according to the petition.

“The victim, who was just 15 years old and unarmed, did not deserve to be shot dead. In any event, she being a child and India being a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she deserved safe passage after due inquiry. The petitioner is seeking relief from this court asking for compensation and a fair and transparent retrial of the BSF constable who was acquitted by the BSF General Security Forces Court.”

The petition said the gruesome act of the BSF jawan “not only violated the basic human rights of the victim but it also shook the basic norms and principles of international law on protection from torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

The petitioners also alleged that in Bengal the BSF had no counter-insurgency responsibilities but was often accused of violent and unsympathetic behaviour towards civilians.