‘No man`s land’ at Indo-Bangla border
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Last Updated: Sunday, January 31, 2010, 13:48
  
New Delhi: Fencing at the Indo-Bangladesh border has pushed thousands of Indians in the 'no man's zone', even as the fenced villagers complain of lack of basic amenities and curbs on their movement in the Indian mainland, official documents have said.

Fencing at the border to check infiltration from Bangladesh into India is supposed to be done 150 yards (137 metre) away from the zero line, which is not followed at many places and is done about a kilometre away from it, thus leaving precious Indian land on the Bangladesh side.

"It has been brought to the notice... that National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) and National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC) have been constructing the composite type fencing... without taking any care for the distance of the fencing from the zero line," Deputy Commissioner Karimganj M Angamuthu said in a note (dated: 18-05-2009) on the 'Status of Indo-Bangladesh Border Road Cum Fencing in Karimganj district (Assam), citing irregularities adopted in the fencing procedure.

"The existing border cum-fencing... was constructed at varying distance of about 900 mts, 700 mts, 500 mts and 300 mts from the zero line of the international border and at some place fencing was constructed at about 400 mts to 1000 mts away," the note added.

"Due to this a huge number of families have fallen outside of the fencing and a huge quantum of Indian land has fallen in 'no man's zone',” Angamuthu's note said.

The people's ingress to Indian mainland has been restricted by the BSF for 4 times a day, timings being 6.00-7.00 am, 9.00-10.00 am, 1.00-2.00 pm and 4.00-5.00 pm.

"By fencing of 150-yard border territory to Bangladesh side, India has practically disowned 149 villages with a population of about 90,000 in a vast tract of land," former State Information Commissioner Assam R S Mooshahary and a ex-director general of BSF said in an article hosted on the Assam Information Commission website.

"The people and their property there are clearly at the mercy of another country as fencing impedes the exercise of sovereign jurisdiction by India. At places fencing has divided the homesteads, fishponds and the village markets rendering peoples life miserable," Mooshahary added.

The Government of India does not have any rehabilitation scheme for the fenced Indian villagers.

RTI activist Anoop Prakash Awasthi, who ventured there in a reality research with Delhi based Centre for Civil society, said that "a humanitarian crisis is brewing in the name of national security and relocation of fenced population in Indian mainland only, can reduce their perils."

Home Ministry told in a reply to an RTI query that "no rehabilitation scheme (for the border people) has been envisaged by this department".

"We are in jail, we cannot freely move the other side and come inside. We cannot freely bring a kilo of sugar and 7-10 kg of rice and not more than that," 70-year-old Abdul Salam Chaudhry, an ex-tea contractor, said.

"No such programme like NREGS is functional here. We cannot sell our bamboo, as no material is allowed to pass through the BSF manned gates from fenced Indian land to Indian mainland.

"We do not have drinking water. We fetch water from the pond. We do not want moon but a hand pump," Abu Baqar, a resident of Lafasail village of Krimgang, said.

"Under IAY only one special package to four districts of Tripura has been sanctioned by fencing affected people on the recommendation of Ministry of Home Affairs," Ministry of Rural Development said in reply to an RTI seeking information about any compensation/rehabilitation scheme meant for the fencing affected people.

There is also no pending proposal for compensation and rehabilitation of fencing affected people, the ministry informed.

Fencing started at the Indo-Bangladesh border in 1986 and around 2677.81 kms of the total sanctioned 3436.59 kms has been fenced till December last year, according to a Home Ministry data.

Fencing is being carried out in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya and is scheduled to be completed by March 2010. India-Bangladesh border is 4095.7 kms, the longest international border India shares with any country.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010, 13:48


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