BJP's border-sealing promise creates ripples

BJP's border-sealing promise creates ripples

BJP's border-sealing promise creates ripples

Hamidur  Rehman, 53, is waiting for Border Security Force (BSF) personnel to open the International Border gate so that he can go and work in his paddy field that lies on the other side of the barbed wire fence that India has constructed all along the 262-km Bangladesh border in Assam.

This includes about 44 riverine border on the Brahmaputra in Dhubri of lower Assam.

“Earlier the BSF used to keep the border gates open from 7 am to 4 pm. We used to show our identity proof to the BSF and enter in the fields and work throughout the day and come back. Now the BSF has become very strict. They say infiltration has increased but we do not see any infiltrators. They open the gate from 7 am to 8 am, 12 noon to 1 pm and 4 pm to  5 pm. Now we are hearing that the BJP government at Centre has promised to seal the border. If that happens, we would not be able to go to our field at all,” Hamidur says. The border fencing on the Indo-Bangladesh border on the Indian side is 150 yards inside the Indian territory from the border pillars. But many in Hamidur’s border village Satrasal of Golakganj in Dhubri district of Assam have permanently lost their land. The compensation they got was meagre. “The border pillars at this side effectively came up after the formation of Bangladesh in1971. So people from our village lost their land, because some are as far as 500 yards from present day border fencing. On the Bangladesh side, there is no such fencing. We are almost living in a jail, yet we are often branded as cattle smugglers,” said Masiruddin Ahmed who has been living in Satrasal since 1965.

The change of border gate opening timing has led to lot of inconvenience to the border village on the Indian side. They cannot go for official works in day time and children cannot help their parents because if they go to the field they cannot attend school due to timing clash.

Satrasal, though a nondescript border village, has a special place in Assam’s socio-religious history.

“We have a rich history. Although the village is Muslim majority, Hindu families are there in the vicinity. But anti-migrant tirade has been taking centre state of the poll campaign and for the past one year innocent villagers in the border areas are being harassed. Some time they are branded as illegal migrants, otherwise as jihadis,” says another villager Dulal Burman.

The recent implementation of the Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary agreement has almost no bearing on the villagers at Dhubri border.

During the poll campaign, BJP national president Amit Shah had claimed that if the BJP is voted to power in Assam, the saffron party will make sure that the Indo-Bangladesh border is sealed completely.

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