A special court in the Indian state of West Bengal has acquitted a Border Security Force (BSF) constable of murdering Felani Khatun on the border in January 2011.
The court said Amiya Ghosh was not guilty of shooting the Bangladeshi girl when she crossed the barbed-wire fence into Bangladesh from India, sources told our New Delhi correspondent yesterday.
Felani's father Nurul Islam rejected the verdict and said that he would appeal to the government to take the matter to the international court.
He, however, said he learnt about the acquittal from the media and was yet to know it officially.
Details as to why the border guard was absolved were not available in the absence of an official word from the BSF of India.
On returning from Delhi and on her way home, Felani, 15, was crossing the border illegally and was shot as her clothes got stuck in the barbed-wire fence on January 7, 2011.
The photo of her body hanging at the top of the fence triggered a huge outcry around the globe.
However, this was the first time a BSF jawan had been put on trial for such a killing.
A five-man BSF General Security Forces court headed by its Assam-Meghalaya frontier DIG (Communication) SP Trivedi conducted the hearings at Sonari BSF camp near Cooch Behar from August 13.
BSF sources said the proceedings of the court have been forwarded for final approval of the director general because the case has been seen as "extra sensitive".
Felani's father Nurul Islam and relatives testified in the court.
"We waited for the last two and a half years for justice, but the verdict which we have come to know is unacceptable. It is extremely shocking," Nurul told The Daily Star over the phone yesterday.
"My innocent daughter was killed very cruelly when I was taking her home for marriage. Will it be justice if one gets acquittal even after killing a person? In no way we can accept it."
He added, "I would appeal to my government to take the matter to international court so that we get justice. Otherwise, my daughter's soul will not rest in peace."
Lawyer of the case of Bangladesh side, Kurigram Public Prosecutor advocate Abraham Lincoln said he was yet to officially know the verdict.
"But if I take the media reports about acquittal of the accused as true, then I would say a murder has been approved through the verdict," he said, adding that this may encourage such border killing.
He said there is still a scope to get justice as the judgment is subject to approval from the higher authority.
The acquittal of Amiya Ghosh also sparked sharp protests in the social media.
Contacted, Border Guard Bangladesh Director General Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed said, "We have communicated with them [BSF], but we have not been informed about the matter officially."
BBC Bangla Service reports: Indian rights organisation MASUM said justice was not served in the Felani murder trial, rather it was an injustice in the name of trial.
Kirity Ray, chief of the organisation, said the image of India has been tarnished by the verdict. The fundamental spirit of the Indian constitution has also been defamed.
MASUM was mulling to file a lawsuit with the Indian High Court or Supreme Court challenging the verdict.
“The verdict needs to be challenged so that Felani's family members get justice,” noted the rights activist.