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Felani-03-FAs I opened the morning paper on Saturday the 7th, among other headlines there was one in particular which announced, much to my incredulity, that the BSF court has acquitted the soldier charged with the murder of Felani. I stared at the headline for a while, completely unwilling to read the content. It was not the mere loss of life of a Bangladeshi citizen or the death of hopes and dreams of a young girl that really bothered me. Then it dawned on me, it was the implied absolute disregard for the worth of life of the people of an entire country that was the point of botheration. The casual acquittal of BSF constable Amiya Ghosh and an absence of any government official from Bangladesh during the trial process hint towards a deliberate act of not delivering justice and further endorsing of such killings in the future.

The case of Felani however should be a catalyst for self reflection rather being a reason to look elsewhere or question the intentions of a neighbouring country. For a sovereign nation which gained its independence more than four decades ago, have we learned to value the life of our own citizens? Are we living in a just society where the state ensures basic fairness for its citizens? The answer to both these questions is an emphatic NO. Article 11 of our constitution states, “The Republic shall be a democracy in which fundamental human rights and freedoms and respect for the dignity and worth of the human person shall be guaranteed, and in which effective participation by the people through their elected representatives in administration at all levels shall be ensured.” While justice is very much contingent upon the whims and the will of the executive nowadays, it is rather difficult to guarantee respect for the dignity and worth of the common person.

Looking beyond the innumerable cases around the country that are awaiting justice, if we just centre our attention to the high profile ones, we would notice that justice has been delayed and in certain cases even denied. The culprits of the Sagar-Runi murder are yet to be apprehended, whereabouts of the BNP lawmaker Elias Ali is still unknown and lastly no one has been brought to justice for manipulation in the capital market which looted the savings of thousands of our fellow citizens. These are just a handful of instances of injustice that has been visible in the social and public media. The common man’s ordeal with justice everyday in this country is more or less an untold story.

Article 10 of our constitution clearly states, “A socialist economic system shall be established with a view to ensuring the realization of a just and egalitarian society, free from the exploitation of man by man.” In order to enable realisation of an egalitarian society, it is absolutely imperative to ensure good governance and a judiciary that is free from the influence of the executive and politics. While successive governments have failed to ensure these elements, they also seem to have taken a completely opposite approach over a period of time, which has now taken a severe form. In the case of Felani for example, it was the human rights organisations in both Bangladesh and India that played a pioneering role in bringing the issue to public notice and create pressure for a trial. There were no visible initiatives from our government, at least till it was made an issue by the others, to address the matter which involved the killing of a citizen. Media played its part in broadcasting the killing but our government looked very much unmoved and content with a trial held by the BSF court which did not have a representative from the government of Bangladesh to ensure transparency and fairness. It was as if the state had no responsibility towards a murdered citizen.

It was also rather disconcerting to see that our law minister and home minister had hardly any knowledge about the legal framework under which the trial took place and even more distressingly had no idea about the full verdict. Apart from the fact that the government could not negotiate to have an observer to oversee the trial process on its behalf, it also does not have the moral strength to condemn the verdict or express its disappointment in clear terms. So far the government has refrained from making any substantive statement on this issue and this is just unacceptable. A hint of retrial has been expressed by the Indian authorities under mounting pressure from various human rights organisations. Our government on the other hand still remain less than proactive.

When the state displays no sympathy or solidarity towards its own citizen, pointing finger at a neighbouring country is counterproductive. When the state in its actions degrades its own citizens, there is no reason to think others will show respect. Taking the verdict into consideration, as it stands, no one has killed Felani. The image of the lifeless body of Felani wedged in a barbed wire has made me come to a stark realisation. It is us who killed Felani. By continuously providing mandates to those who are guided by a political system that is destructive, unproductive and most importantly, not people centric, the people of this country have brought this predicament upon themselves. It is our silence and failure to hold the state responsible for not protecting our dignity is what killed Felani. It is the inability to gauge our self worth is what killed Felani. We killed Felani.

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Israfil Khosru is a businessman and runs a youth led think tank called The Bangladeshi.

8 Responses to “No one killed Felani”

  1. m zaman

    Death of Felani is an international event. It occured while Felani was crossing an international border illegally. It will be very difficult to prosecute a border gurad who is doing his state-sactioned job, albeit very callously. After reading the write up of Rumi Bhai, I was very emotional too … but things are not just back and white!!

    Yes, I hold my government responsible for the way they handled the whole thing, although I understand the limitations of our government.

    To me, it is more important to get justice for Limon, Bishwajit, family of kidnapped BNP leader … and so on …

  2. Monika Rahman

    I am angry, very angry. Where is the government’s earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something very positively about the brutal killing of this teen-aged girl, Felani Akhter? Where is the voice of opposition party – BNP?

    Where are the human rights organizations like HRW, Odhikar and the like? Why have they chosen to remain silent on such a burning issue?

    I demand justice; highest punishment to the culprit responsible for murdering of this poor girl.

  3. Shuvra Kanti Sen

    Amra other shasti ditey pari commercially, politically but amader desh prem nai tai amra pari na…..

  4. Souvi Rocky

    যদি সঠিক বিচার না হয় থাহলে বাংলাদেশে যেসকল ভারতীয় কনসাল অফিস আছে সবকটির সামনের রোড গুলো ফেলানীর নামে নামকরণ করা হউক ৷

  5. Mamunur Rashid Sonnet

    India is not our real friend. They r using us only 4 their business purpose. They r enemy of us as a disguised friend.

  6. 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;

  7. Golam Arshad

    Can’t agree MORE! Bangladeshis can never be subjugated by ANY POWER! “FELANI IS THE STAR OF FREEDOM AND SOVEREIGNTY”!

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