IT’S ONLY BANGLADESH, AFTER ALL
Frank Domenico Cipriani
Is India listening?
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.
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?
September 10, 2013
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.