A fresh trial of the 2011 killing of a teenage Bangladeshi girl, Felani Khatun, by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) will be speedily concluded, India asserted at a biannual coordination meeting of the director generals of Border Guard Bangladesh and BSF.
Delivering a verdict in the murder case, a special court in the Indian state of West Bengal had acquitted the accused BSF constable of shooting Felani.
Her family rejected the trial. As BGB too opposed the investigation and the subsequent trial conducted by BSF, a fresh trial was ordered.
The 15-year-old was shot dead on January 7 that year as she was crossing the barbed-wire fence into Bangladesh from India. The incident particularly the photo of her body hanging at the top of the fence sparked strong reactions in and outside Bangladesh.
Addressing a media conference with BSF Director General DK Pathak, BGB DG Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed said Bangladesh would continue to raise concerns over the killing of its nationals on the border with the neighbouring country until and unless such actions by BSF were stopped totally.
The Indian force has always used lethal weapons as an extreme step, BSF chief Pathak said in response. “If anybody is involved in trans-border crimes, we will resort to firing as an extreme measure.”
The chiefs of both border guard agencies, however, agreed that the killings along the Indo-Bangladesh border had come down.
“Twenty-eight people were killed in the border areas last year, which was much less than the previous year,” the BGB chief said.
Bangladesh and India agreed on measures like increasing vigilance in areas vulnerable to cattle smuggling, intensifying coordinated patrols at night and deployment of quick reaction teams along the border to end border killings, according to a joint statement issued yesterday after the four-day meeting ended.
The statement highlights the importance of Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) drawn to curb trans-border crimes like smuggling of drugs and narcotics, including Phensidyle, fake currency notes, gold and cattle.
The chiefs of the border guard forces also agreed on the implementation of CBMP in letter and spirit, vulnerability mapping every six months and need for exercising more vigil in maintaining the sanctity of the border in the vulnerable areas, it says.
The BGB-BSF meeting also discussed other vital issues, including human trafficking, illegal migration and smuggling of fake Indian bank notes and arms.
“Bangladesh could be a transit route of illegal arms but no illegal arms are manufactured on our soil,” Maj Gen Ahmed said.
“We will also share real time intelligence as far as arms smuggling using the Bay of Bengal route is concerned,” said the BGB chief when his attention was drawn to the recent haul of a huge quantity of arms in Cox's Bazar.
During the meeting, BSF handed over to BGB a list of 71 Indian insurgent groups camping in Bangladesh.