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Felani-03-FIs India listening?

That’s what you, my dear readers said when I first wrote about the killing of Felani in 2011 (“State-sanctioned murder: India’s secret policy“, “A Letter to India…“)

Now we have the answer. A special court set up by the BSF has found its own man not guilty of the brutal murder of Felani Khatun.

What makes it worse, is that, according to SM Abraham Lincoln , a public prosecutor representing Felani’s family, BSF’s Amiya Ghosh is Felani’s self-confessed murderer. He admitted to the killing of a 15-year-old girl, and he is a free man.

Message received. Not guilty. It’s only Bangladesh, after all.

Indian justice has chosen to turn a deaf ear to the cries of Felani, and clearly to all of Bangladesh.

India promised to “resolve these matters,” way back when that unspeakable crime against humanity was perpetrated in the name of the Indian government. And now, it has done what it promised: It resolved the matter, with a resounding shrug. After all, what does India gain by giving justice to Felani’s family?

I ask any objective observer to answer this question honestly: If the accused, BSF’s 181 Battalion constable Amiya Ghosh’s victim had been a German, or a Brit, would the trial have taken this long? Would the outcome be the same? The world papers would have decried the “Butcher of the BSF.” The pictures of a German or Australian Felani would have been front page worldwide. Even the suspicion of the murder of a European would have yielded a stronger reaction by any other government on earth…

…And India would have responded, because a powerful nation with powerful leaders would have DEMANDED a response.

Meanwhile, I am sure that Felani’s father is comforted by the fact that… what? That the leading politicos in Bangladesh are taking voting issues very seriously, and that the opposition is promising “unending demonstrations.” I’m sure the people of Bangladesh appreciate the fact that its leaders have more pressing issues to attend to demanding justice on behalf of their most vulnerable constituents.

Do I have any right to complain? I mean, I’m not a Bangladeshi. But I am a father, and Nurul Islam (Felani’s father), by that sacred charge is my brother.

So, nobody that I am, I’m feeling angry.

Very angry.

You need to keep this in mind when I begin to pontificate about the relative value of human beings versus… cows, for instance. Whatever historical ascendancy India may claim, in this act, it proves that its modern incarnation bears no resemblance to the nation that once embraced the philosophy of satyagraha.

That “holding firm to the truth” has no place in India today, if the sum total of the nation’s jurisprudence will not allow a family to find justice for their daughter, brutally shot and left to die in agony for the crime of lacking wealth and being powerless.

In fact, in exonerating Felani’s killer, India has abrogated the right to condemn any other nation of wrongdoing. They no longer can claim the birthright as victims of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre now that their own border guards have killed double the number of innocent unarmed crossers as were murdered at the “Martyr’s Well”. And with what justification for all this slaughter? Anti-terrorism? That was the exact rationalisation the British gave when they opened fire on an unarmed crowd on that fateful day in 1919.

The last time I wrote about Felani in 2011, I said, “A father of one child is the father of all children. The sons and daughters of Bangladesh are my sons and daughters as well. I still mean that with all my heart. Every father with a daughter on this earth must cry out for justice.

But that isn’t the whole story. Now I say that it isn’t Felani on that barbed wire, dying at the hands of the callous neighbour, while she begs for water.

No, it’s Bangladesh itself on that barbed wire.

And your leaders should know that the nation’s cries for water, for sympathy, for even a modicum of human decency, are likely to be met with the same lack of compassion on other issues.

And where is the outcry from the people you have elected to protect you from this injustice? Too busy with infighting to see that they too are tangled in India’s barbed wire fence.

And when they’ve dammed the Teesta river, and your children are crying for water? Do you think they’ll heed your cries? Where are your leaders? Where is the outrage? And now, as I edit this piece, I notice the headline today in bdnews24.com: Delhi fails to get LBA cleared. The Indian Parliament has failed to ratify a treaty that sets the Indo-Bangladeshi border. They don’t have to. It’s only Bangladesh, after all.

As far as I’m concerned, the fact of this brutal murder and the lack of consequences for the perpetrators should be the subject of international outcry. No national definition, no love of country should trump the bonds of common decency and the obligation of every civilised nation on earth toward at least the most basic level of humane consideration for its neighbours. People throughout the world should be made aware of this tragic story. At least via social media, the people of Bangladesh have a means by which to communicate this story to the world.

Yet I remain hopeful. I am sure that justice has its share of friends in India, and at the time of this writing, I am hoping that justice might still prevail, and some appeal will allow the guilty to pay. I am hoping for a strong response to this verdict from people of goodwill in India.

Some of the snapshots of the news from Bangladesh show the family kneeling by a fenced-in grave of Felani. Hold your children close tonight, you parents. Some photos show what appear to be Felani’s young siblings. Don’t delay to tell your sons and daughters you love them. Felani isn’t the only innocent child to die. Dream your dreams for your children and hope that they will be protected from the envier when he envies. As I said before, When I look at my daughter’s eyes I think, “In my youth, I dreamed big dreams that didn’t come true, but I have this wonderful child. If this was the trade, my dreams for in exchange for her life, I got the best of the bargain.”

And when that bargain is broken by violence, all you can do is thirst for justice at the barbed wire border. And when that justice is denied, then really what is left of you?

When you can no longer hold your daughter’s hand…

What is left after justice is denied?

A clenched fist, and a righteous determination…

…And that’s a dangerous combination, even if it’s only Bangladesh.

Are you listening now, India?

Frank Domenico Cipriani writes a weekly column in the Riverside Signal called “You Think What You Think And I’ll Think What I Know.” He is also the founder and CEO of The Gatherer Institute — a not-for-profit public charity dedicated to promoting respect for the environment and empowering individuals to become self-taught and self-sufficient. His most recent book, “Learning Little Hawk’s Way of Storytelling”, teaches the native art of oral tradition storytelling.

49 Responses to “It’s only Bangladesh, after all”

  1. Jahanara Begum

    How Ironic! Today India has convicted 4 men for a crime ‘raping a medical student inside a bus!’ The crime was shocking & punishment is ‘Execution!’ I applaud this verdict. What about killing/ executing of an innocent Bengali teenager girl ‘Felani’ by BSF? Why it has been treated like killing a mosquito! WHY No justice for Felani? Why double standard? Why an Indian girl’s life values way more than a Bengali girl when the murderers in both cases are from India?

    Dear Sonia Gandhi;

    Just in case you are reading this little note from a Bangladeshi American woman, this is for you.

    I have admired your intellectual mind for many years, how you have suffered when your husband was killed. You have gotten justice but not peace, correct? Why? Because justice gave you a little assurance of your daughter & son’s future safety! As a widow, mother & now a grandma, you are also a daughter yourself, mostly you are a woman! Not just any woman, a woman who knows how to be a leader behind the scene in a men dominant society, a foreign society, a complex yet justice loving country like India! Madam, could you PLEASE show some respect to another woman/ a little girl whose parents have been humiliated by India’s puppet court system? I urge you to seek justice for a simple little girl who has been loved by her parents like you love Priyanka. May God keep you & your children safe & May God keep safe all the less fortunate children of Bangladesh.

    With regards J. Begum;

    • Frank Domenico Cipriani

      I wish she WERE reading. You’re so right about what you’ve written to her.

  2. Anwar A. Khan

    Mr. Frank,

    It is a clear cut muder by BSF, India. I have a lone daughter and when the media first published the gruesome killing of this little poor girl and I saw her picture including the present one dangling on the barbed wire fence, it pierced my heart and I felt that my own beloved daughter was lynched by the blood-thirsty BSF. Tears rolled down my cheeks. My words fail to condemn this barbarous act. With teary eyes I denounce this unpardonable criminal offence committed by BSF.

    The so-called vedict delivered by BSF, India is nothing but a highly unfair or dishonest behavior. It is a sheer injustice done to Felani’s family and to us as well. I can only speak for myself. I am extremely angry and express my strong resentment against this BSF act. I feel like a dagger has been plunged into my heart and soul.

    We are here not to cry only but to demand the capital punishment to the perpetrators of this brutal killing and want to see that it has happened.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      Sadly, we are here to demand justice, but when your own government fails to say anything, who can expect a foreign power to act?

      • carol A. Olson

        Felani gun-down has also shocked me tremendously. It has made me outrageous. Long time back, I worked in a development in Bangladesh and I know these people who were very hospitable and kind-hearted towards me during those days. I still remember them with highest regards. I wish their well-being all the while.

        In Bangladesh, everyone is protesting for this despicably cowardly act committed by the Indian BSF. The judgment handed-down might have serious flaws and the Indian Government Authorities should immediately take up the matter with seriousness in order that the real perpetrators do not get any chance to get out of the hook.

        Dear Frank, We can make comments like revolutioneries or ultra-revolutioneris as we are general people but a government of any country must act responsibly. I have read many news items on this sad episode of Bangladesh including its government’s current position. And I believe the Bangladeshi government is pursuing the matter following due processes. I hope Felani family and my Bangladeshi brothers and sisters would soon get justice.

      • Frank Domenico Cipriani

        But still, Carol, don’t you think it is the responsibility of the government to at least say something on behalf of the victims? Is silence really a wise decision in this case? I think this silence must be motiviated not out judicious “wait and see”, but something more basely political.

      • Carol A. Olson

        Frank, I think your comment “but something more basely political” has certain strong basis because the national election there is fast approaching. True, the government should have extended some consolations to Felani family by this time and also comforted them that they would do whatever possible in addressing this injustice and they should do it in no time. But still then I believe that the Bangladesh government is not that much of silent as you have expressed; if you read the newspapers, at least the online newspapers there, you may have some idea about the matter. By the by, I have also not seen any reactions or strong reactions by other political parties of Bangladesh including the HR organizations on this particular instance.

      • Anwar A. Khan

        Mr. Frank,

        I was so angry and upset and overwhelmed and devastated by reading about this pathetic incident once again that I sat in my office room as I saw the picture of Felani with her head hanging down (I like to think I am pretty tough, but I am really not).

        The Bangladesh government should immediately make allout efforts using all available resources with their counterpart in India to bring the responsible BSF personnel to justice and that must be visible in their actions. Finally, appropriate compensation should be given to the victim’s family as well.

  3. Raziv Alam

    Thank you Mr Cipriani for the article. I wish the international media took up this news and showed to the world the brutality of the BSF. The world needs to know, the world needs to see.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      I have sent some emails to some people in the international media. So far, no word.

  4. Babu

    This inhuman and brutal killing is a shame for the civilization. Shame on the BSF and the Indian government! Isn’t there anyone in India – sane and humane enough to protest this brutality?

  5. Desh

    No one killed Felani. She just happened to have a heart failure when crossing the border. BSF’s Ghosh cannot take responsibility of this death. So the verdict is right. Very right. Right?

    • Rupali Mrittika Rahman

      Only a person who is devoid of all conscience or sense of right and wrong can make such a cruel comment! Such a type of person is more of a fiend. We think his/her moral degeneracy is equivalent to the kingpins of Jamaat-e-Islami and their mango-twigs.

      We all have become speechless after having seen this very brutal killing of our sister – Felani and the judgment delivered by the BSF authority of India. We do not, can not and shall not accept them. Let us raise our voice loudly in a single tone against all these injustices done so that the criminals get highest punishment.

      Frank, Thanks for your kind-heartedness for writing such a heart-touching piece and for your very heart-felt feeling for Felani and Bangladesh.

      All Students :

      Zinat, Nabendu Chakma, David Das, Srabanty Barua, Nikhil, Masum, Animesh Khisha, Sanjit, Shakil, Minu, Moriom, Shushil Garo, Rea, Jakir, Badrul, Samir Barua, Antony, Jalal, Bashar, Shisir Shaozal, Nandita, Mahmud, Nasir, Bernard Sarkar, Ashish, Mohiuddin, Amalendu Khisha, Rajib Ali, Reza, Arunima Dutta, Shuvashis Dewan, Munir Mohiuddin, Jhony Gupta and Rupali Mrittika Rahman.

      • Frank D. Cipriani

        Thank you, all students. Everyone should raise their voice. As for Desh’s comment, I think he / she ? was being sarcastic, parroting the travesty of a trial Gosh might have gotten. I think Desh is as outraged as the rest of us. I can hear the anger in the tone. By the way, my article had to be heavily edited by myself and my wonderful editor- I was so angry I might have definitely gone too far without a good edit.

    • Golam Arshad

      Are you decoying the Prime Minister’s view in “Reverse Tone”? I wonder in dismay!!

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      No. A great nation with mediocre leadership. You should, must and will expect more.

  6. Frank D. Cipriani

    Thank you, my friend. I sincerely hope you are not tagged. On that day, I will defend you with my words. Patriotism allows for a range of opinion, and those who would point one finger must note the three fingers pointing back at themselves. Loyalty to country doesn’t mean loyalty to one family, or one party. It means thinking of what’s best for the person to the left and to the right of you, and respectfully disagreeing, or agreeing. And when the country is done an injustice, the people should cry out as one. “We are all Felani”.

  7. Rhidy Ruby

    We are a forgetful nation. And India knows that. They just waited two years to give verdict because they know that public sentiment will die down in these couple of years. And that’s exactly what has happened.

  8. US

    This is nothing but travesty of justice. A 15-yr old was brutally shot dead and the shooter is found not guilty. How can anyone in his/her clear mind think it as justice?

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      Nobody does. If you read my other articles on the subject, someone always defends India. None do this time.

  9. Huda

    We have a lame government and spineless people. What more can we expect from them?

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      I say it again. Your people are not spineless. You have proved that throughout your history. I won’t defend the government. They should stand up to India, or you should vote them out of power.

  10. www

    Frank, no point getting angry or protesting. When your own government didn’t even make any official comment on the verdict, you can clearly see our attitude and outlook towards our big brother neighbor.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      BUt who’s “we” quasem? There is a very great “we” in Bangladesh who has been kept out of power and kept voiceless for too long.

  11. kim

    I don’t know how Felani’s parents felt when they heard the verdict. Their heart must have broken.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      I do agree. It is very little comfort, but at least it would have been some comfort.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      So true. Bangladesh needs leaders who will stand up to that abuse.

  12. Torap Miah

    AL and our Prime Minister, they have always maintained a submissive attitude towards India and its big brotherly attitude. India just acted the way it always did. It is us who should be blamed for this travesty of justice.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      Sadly, I have to agree with you. And now they will have drones flying the border, making it even easier to play with the lives of Bangladeshis.

  13. Bahadur

    I don’t why anyone is surprised. Did you all really think that India will give us justice. Juvenile is all i can call you.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      If being surprised at injustice is juvenile, then I am definitely guilty. But by international standards, people should expect justice. The sad fact is not even your leaders are demanding it.

  14. giyas

    We have such a pathetic lot of politicians! All the care about is remaining in power. And when i say politicians, I mean both the ruling and the opposition party leaders! both are as pathetic as the next one! shame on them!!

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      I totally agree with you. India can do what it wants partly because of politics in Bangladesh. It seems that your leaders can go to the UN, can call for work stoppages, can create huge swirls of dust, but can’t do the substantial thing that needs to be done. Where is the Shahbagh protest for these brand new “war crimes”? The whole nation should be crying out against this injustice.

  15. afnan Sami

    How could this take 2 years to solve. And what a verdict came out!! Being poor is such a big curse!

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      Even the poor, if they protest loud and long enough, can get justice. When nothing is asked for, nothing gets done. People should take to the streets, especially in front of the Indian embassy.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      It is easy to stand by you. Easy but frustrating. I see such a sad disconnect between the greatness of a people and the mediocrity of a government.

  16. Golam Arshad

    My friend I am too! VERY,VERY ANGRY!You are absolutely RIGHT, that if a GERMAN, BRIT or US had a similar fate as FELANI, the World would have broken loose! It would have a LEAD story in all Media outlets (CNN, FOX,BBC and even ALJAZEERA would have carried it till justice have been served) But unfortunately, FELANI was a BANGLADESHI! We FEAR INDIA because we have mortgaged our power soul to their whims and wishes. Our Honorable PM SHEIKH HASINA for my NOTE OF ANGER will tag me as a ISI AGENT aka Pakistani sympathiser or a staunch JAMAATI. She and her PARTY AL will steer this time for another TERM with HELP AND SUPPORT FROM INDIA. And ME a PAID PAKISTANI AGENT!And Me Will be her CHEERLEADER! What a SHOT of SHOCK!!Pitting PAUL TO PAY JOHN. My friend LBA will never be signed because we are the downstream head hog! Our Politicians deeply tinged their VOICE to PLAY THEIR PLAY, Never HURT their HEART. Its all coded in Joy of Wonder.. HAIL TO INDIA, OUR FRIEND FOR EVER. Good Job my friend.

    • Frank D. Cipriani

      I agree. Somehow my answer to you got posted higher up in this thread, my friend. Scroll up to read it!

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