Assam: Indians living outside Indo-Bangla border fence wait for politicians to visit - Hindustan Times
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Assam: Indians living outside Indo-Bangla border fence wait for politicians to visit

ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha
Apr 23, 2024 11:42 AM IST

Bipul Namasudra from Gobindapur said that they live in the village, but they have to cross the fencing daily for their basic needs including buying food items, for work, education and health facilities

As many as 130 Indian families residing in 11 villages outside the fences of India-Bangladesh international border near Assam’s Karimganj and Cachar say they are waiting for political leaders to visit their villages and address their problems.

The polling in Karimganj and Silchar (Cachar) will be held on April 26 and families are gearing up to cast their franchise. (HT photo)
The polling in Karimganj and Silchar (Cachar) will be held on April 26 and families are gearing up to cast their franchise. (HT photo)

The polling in Karimganj and Silchar (Cachar) will be held on April 26 and families are gearing up to cast their franchise.

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“We are Indians and we never skip voting, those who are present in the villages, will go for voting on April 26,” they said.

Assam shares 263 kilometres of the border with Bangladesh and around 160 kilometres of it is near Karimganj and Cachar.

According to the BSF, most parts of it have been fenced, except the riverine areas.

Responding to a question by Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha during the budget session this year, Assam border protection and development minister Atul Bora revealed that around 130 families are living in those villages outside the fencing near Karimganj and Cachar which includes 806 Indian citizens.

Also Read:Assam Lok Sabha elections 2024-Phase 1: Key constituencies and candidates

According to the Border Security Force (BSF), Gobindapur and Uttar Lafasail have the largest population.

“44 families are there in Gobindapur while Lafasail has 66 families. In other villages, the number is less, infact some villages have one or two families each,” officials said.

Bipul Namasudra from Gobindapur said that they live in the village, but they have to cross the fencing daily for their basic needs including buying food items, for work, education and health facilities.

“We still live here because this is our forefather’s land and we have nowhere to go. Most of us are financially backward and we can’t buy land in India, so we remain here. Those who managed to go, they have left,” he said.

Namasudra said that they wait to become part of the election as it is a celebration of democracy, but the political parties do not consider campaigning in their villages.

“We see meetings, rallies and massive celebrations surrounding the election on mainland India and we like the way different political leaders make promises during the campaigns. We also dream of it, and want to see leaders coming to our houses with promises, even if they don’t fulfill them after the election,” he said.

A 60-year-old lady, on the condition of anonymity, said her bedroom is in India and her kitchen falls under Bangladesh’s land.

“I was married off here when I was a teenager and now, I have grandkids. I have a few days of my life left but I never saw any care from the mainland. We exist, even if nobody cares. Our only saviour is BSF.”

According to the officials of Karimganj district administration, the families were asked to move inside the fencing and some people agreed but things didn’t work out.

Titu Namasudra from Gobindapur said they were given land in a tea garden, and they tried to shift there but they were attacked.

“When we went to the garden to make our houses, we were attacked with bow and arrows, we saved our lives and fled,” he said.

Out of 44 families in Gobindapur, 42 are Hindus and they conduct Durga Puja every year and at that time their kids come home.

“Most of the youths live outside and some of them are even in cities like Bengaluru. They come back during Durga Puja, and they leave after Diwali,” an 80-year-old man said.

Unlike Gobindapur, Uttar Lafasail has a majority of Muslim population. Locals said that 61 of them have electricity connection but five families living at the extreme point of the border are not even allowed to construct permanent houses.

Abdul Zabbar from Uttar Lafasail said they stay near Gojukata Mosque of Bangladesh.

“Both Indian and Bangladesh border security forces stop us from constructing houses. Sometimes we attend Namaz in Gojukata Mosque and celebrate Eid together,” he said.

Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha said that they visited the villages in the past and tried to solve the issues the people of these villages are facing.

“I tried to raise the issue before the assembly many times and wrote letters to the central government. After this year’s general elections, I’ll talk to the Assam CM about it,” he said.

President of Karimganj BJP, Subrata Bhattacharjee said that during Covid-19 outbreak, they sent food and medicine to these families. The area was hugely affected by the 2022 floods and that time too they extended support, but they believe that a permanent solution is required.

BSF officials said that a proposal for making an additional fence to bring the villages inside Indian territory was taken but for some internal reasons, it was cancelled.

The locals said that the boys of their villages don’t reveal their address when they propose marriage to someone.

“They hide it because no father would marry off his daughter to a house which is located at no man’s land,” they said.

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