‘No man`s land’ at Indo-Bangla border

Fencing at the Indo-Bangladesh border has pushed thousands of Indians in the `no man`s zone`.

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

"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

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.


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