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India soldier says not guilty in Bangladeshi death

August 14, 2013

KOLKATA, India (AP) — An Indian paramilitary soldier accused of killing of a Bangladeshi girl along the border between the countries has pleaded not guilty to the charge, a senior official said Wednesday.

Border guard Amiya Ghosh entered his plea Tuesday in a special court trying the case of the shooting of the 15-year-old girl as she was crossing into Bangladesh in January 2011, said Bansi Dhar Sharma, a spokesman for India’s Border Security Force.

The trial is being held in Cooch Behar town, around 725 kilometers (450 miles) north of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state.

The girl’s father and Bangladeshi officials were expected to travel to India next week to testify at the trial.

Killings of illegal migrants are common along the porous India-Bangladesh border, but this is the first time a border guard has gone on trial for a killing.

The South Asian neighbors are often at odds over issues involving their nearly 4,000-kilometer (2,500-mile) border. India says Bangladeshis sneak over illegally. Bangladesh accuses Indian troops of using extreme violence along the border.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has repeatedly criticized the Indian force in recent years for killing Bangladeshis along the border. It has labeled the Indian force as a “trigger happy” agency and urged India to investigate all killings along its border.

India says most of the people killed along the border are smugglers. India says there are camps of Indian insurgents inside Bangladesh, but Dhaka denies it.

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