India Ignores Illegal Migration In Northeast India, People Continue to Suffer

Episode/Incident In Assam State:

.” .. Our houses are situated within India, but right on the ‘Zero Line’ of the Indo-Bangla International Border. We are feeling insecure because, our houses have gone beyond the International Barbed Wire Border Fencing (IBWBF). As a result of this, the Bangladeshi miscreants always not only steal away our cows, food-grains and others properties but also cut our crops as we can’t go and protect it. Even, sometimes they have wanted to take shelter forcibly in our house on gunpoint after committed crimes in their respective lands. Most dangerous thing is that few months ago (around early of the year 1998), our neighbour, Narayan Barman was kidnapped by the Bangladeshi miscreants, when he was working his paddy fields, which is outside of the IBWBF and kept him captive around 03 months.

To combat this illegal activities of the Bangladeshi criminals, the village people set up Village Defense Party (VDP) with the strength of 50 to 60 young and middle-aged men and the young chaps, who exercise their patrolling duty by term round-the-clock …..,” revealed Prafulla Kumar Roy, inhabitant of Bhogdanga-kutti village and Narayan Barman, of Bishkhowa village. Both hamlets are situated in Dhubri district of Eastern Indian State, Assam.

Episode/Incident In Tripura State:

.” .. ‘Partition’ has created peculiar demographic land problems. I am the inhabitant of the International Border Village (IBV). The front part of my house (where I sleep) lies in Indian territory, while my adobe’s hind part in Bangladesh.

The Government of India wants to build the IBWBF on the courtyard of my house that lies on the international boundary to tackle the problems like illegal infiltration, smuggling, pan-Islamic religious fundamentalism, anti-Indian activities, insurgency and what not …? But, this is not the way; you never do such kind of things, which is not logical and precise. You have no right to divide our house, people, relatives, language, food, culture and dress.

As a cultured person, I may say, this has happened due to not only the drawing of an ‘illogical’ and ‘unscientific’ arbitrary line by the so-called British Engineer, Sir Cyril Radcliff, who divided the two nations (India and Pakistan) to create the two countries in the year – 1947, but also even, after the partition (that is, presently), when a sections of so-called ‘engineer’ or ‘official’ of the Indian Central Public Works Department (ICPWD) have made the IBWBF without our proper consent, interest, safety and security! As a result, today, my paternal house is situated on the ‘zero-line’ area and my total house is outside of the IBWBF!

I think it expresses the idiocy of a section of policy makers of the Indian Home Ministry Department, who have suggested and sanctioned the IBWBF as well. The contractors and the so-called officials want to build the IBWBF only because for make easy and quick money, and nothing else. Its’ as simple as that without proper check and verify how they can erect it? While it shows the lacks of the importance of the socio-economic-cultural system of our society.

It’s really not only unfortunate for us but also painful. My family and I are required to cross the international borderline many a times a day in order to enjoy my home life. Beside, me, there are many such other peoples of our hamlet that lie on the international border too, who are become to compel to use this ‘movement’ (that is, cross and re-cross the international border) or carry out their works properly in several times a day. Because, half of our IBV houses or kitchens or bedrooms or toilets have on Bangladesh territory and the rest of the Indian sides. Now, let me tell, what can I/we do? I/we can’t leave my native place or motherland, whatever you called. So, in this context, if anybody call me/us Bangladeshi, yes; I/we r Bangladeshi and I/we r proud of that. … Ok, if you think it is good for our society and the country as well, we will certainly welcome. But, you have to first relocate us properly and then to provide us compensation against our lands …..,” said angrily young boy Nayan Khan of Jaipur village under West Tripura district of Eastern Indian State, Tripura.

Episode/Incident In West Bengal State:

.” .. It is our misfortune that we the people of Bijayapur have to be Bangladeshi though we are the bona-fide citizens of India. Not only that one day, to resist the anti-Indian activities, ones my husband’s elder brother gets bullet hit injury, when a certain vicious circle of Bangladesh is carrying on looting and plundering our properties from their respective borderline villages. Moreover, sometimes, question on the chastity come upon our village women and minor girls also. I can’t understand, what to be done. Government of India can assure our security if it intends to do so. But, we don’t understand the policy of the Government of India (whether it is the State and the Central) for not providing security to us, its own citizens …..,” pointed out despondent Sushama Biswas, wife of Bikash Biswas of Bijayapur denizen that lies on the Indo-Bangla international borderline beyond IBWBF of Nadia district of the Northeastern Indian State, West Bengal.

Episode/Incident In Meghalaya State:

.” …. On May, 2001, in the early morning, around 09:00 am, a group of 10 Bangladeshi villagers illegally intruded in our territory and tried not only to plough our agricultural land, but also have stolen our crops.

Seeing this, our tribal village people raised physical protests, but the notorious Bangladeshi villagers didn’t pay any heed to it. They threatened that they will take away our village people as hostages if we resist their ‘work’. Within a few minutes, the number of the Bangladeshis grows quickly and there were close to 50 at one point.

Finding no other alternative, our people informed the nearest International Border Out Post (IBOP) staffed by the Border Security Force of India (BSFI). The BSFI soldiers fired one warning round in the air and forced the Bangladeshi intruders recoiled and fled.

… Look, IBWBF has created unnecessary difficulties in our life and nothing else. It is rather giving a sleepless night. Because, our land and landed property have gone beyond the IBWBF. The members of my family and our neighbours are cultivators, who are facing same problems and required to go their land beyond the fencing to carry out the works – cultivation, all day. Because, here the farming has been carrying out till last inch of the zero-line. Even, though, in general, the boundary has no hindrances, but, densely populated also. The key of the International Border Gate (IBG) through, which the IBV peoples go to their respective lands, is kept with the Indian frontier guard -BSFI on duty. The BSFI personnel open the IBG three times each day.

So, cultivators of this village, whose plots of land lie beyond the fencing wait for the time of opening and closing the IBG. The BSFI soldiers can’t protect us and our food-grains and others (like : paddy, wheat, mustard-seeds, vegetables and jute et cetera), bulls, cows, (which draw ploughs) properly, for the Bangladeshis often come to our respective lands and steal away our produced crops, which creates day-to-day incidents ….,” a permanent settler said. He lives in the Khashi hamlet, Patharghat near Shella in the East Khashi Hills district of Northeastern Indian State, Meghalaya, near IBPN – 1239.

Episode/Incident In Mizoram State :

.” .. The situation of our International Border Village People (IBVP)s of the India-Bangladesh International Border in the Indian Mizoram State Sector is very wobbly. Our IBVPs of the IBVs, Bindiasora and Tarabonye, who have fallen outside the IBWBF feared for their security threat by the Bangladeshi anti-social elements, which are carried out their illegal activities with the help of BDR soldiers. It is true that our entire IBV Tarabonye has fallen outside of the IBWBF and the families are prevented by the personnel of the Bangladesh frontier guard – Bangladesh Defence Rifles (BDR) from collecting river sand for sale, which was earlier their major source of income. Even, we informed former Indian Mizoram State Chief Secretary, Haukhum Hauzel that about 75 to 80 IBV families of the IBV, Bindiasora have also fallen in the outside of the IBWBF,” mentioned IBVPs of the Bindiasora IBV.

So, the Government of India (GOI) has wanted to end the chaotic law and order situation on the international border, which created by the Bangladeshis time-to-time and for this the GOI has started to erect IBWBF between the IBPN-2301 to IBPN-2358 of the India-Bangladesh International Border in the Indian Mizoram State Frontier Sector in the year, 2006.

But, due to erecting of the IBWBF on the international boundary, our IBVPs have lost everything. Apart from loss of their immovable assets like homes, horticulture gardens, farming-lands (vegetables and other cash crops), plantation-lands (tree plantations of high commercial values like teak and others), the IBVPs have also lost Indian Mizoram State Government and community properties like schools, health sub-centres, water supply, council office buildings, market places, water ponds, play-grounds, community-halls, places of worship, cemetery or grave yards, et cetera and other properties to make way for the IBWBF.

These IBVPs get no compensation (except a few inhabitants, who get very minimum amounts) nor get any lands for rehabilitation, where they can carry out their day-to-day farming as well as to live peacefully.

A young Chakma boy, who lives on the IBV Tarabonye of Mamit district of the eastern Indian State, Mizoram said “Due to the erection of the IBWBF, the number of attacks are increasing daily in our IBV areas, with the help of BDR,.”

‘Migration’ cannot stop by the ‘law’, ‘force’ and ‘protest’. It is a natural process. After sunrise, many hundreds of Bangladeshi nationals, who have been crowded into Bangladeshi infested or adjacent Indo-Bangla international bordering towns and semi-towns of the Northeast Indian States (specially, Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya) cross the international border.

To keep attention on this particular issue, the local Indian International Border Village (IBV) peoples admitted, “Nowadays, some ‘new’ settlements of Bangladeshi Muslims are seen in the extreme points of the international border zones constantly, which have already created not only help to incite the illegal infiltration, but also help to buck up the anti-social works like smuggling, fanatic religious fundamental activities, anti-Indian activities et cetera. It has now become a regular process.

It is also fact that a huge quantity of illegal Bangladeshi floating population exists in the Indian States, who are mostly adopted the job of either Rickshaw-puller or labour and earns Rs. 50 to Rs. 75 a day to pass their life. Interesting fact is that none of them possess the necessary required documents or licenses.”

The story of this Bangladeshi ‘labour class’ is very exciting. As daylight breaks, the Bangladeshi male-head with his wife and children cross over the international border from Akhaura place of Bangladesh and enter into the Indian land, Agartala, the capital of Eastern Indian State, Tripura.

Having reached their destination Agartala (India) the male-head goes to hire either a rickshaw to ferry the passengers or a handbarrow to carry goods, while the female one begins her day as a maidservant or work as labour in the construction-site and for their children, it is the moment to locate his or her associates to rove on the streets and lanes gathering ‘valuable’ rubbish articles from drains and debris, even garbage.

In the twilight, the whole family has gathered in a ‘particular point’ after finish their respective works and the male-head buys rice, vegetables and others necessary materials of the family from the local bazaar and proceed to their own native village, Bangladesh.

“It is true that during the dawn, the Bangladeshi nationals enter into the Indian soil with a view to working as a ‘day-labourer’ and return to their country after the dusk. Even, there are more than 35% (per cent) to 40% (per cent) of the rickshaw-puller in our capital, which has not only shattered the Indian economy, but also hit the demography as well as the socio-cultural condition,” emphasized the former Municipal Chairman of Agartala, Amal Dasgupta.

While on the other hand, the local Doctor avered, “In my health-centre, 25% (per cent) to 30% (per cent) of the patients are Bangladeshi and they hide their real identity and enlisted their name and addresses in the registered book as an Indian to avail of better treatment. But, if you can see them, anyone may easily guess that their colloquial language and dresses indicate their real identity, while as a doctor and as a people of India, we take care of them on humanitarian ground, while International Border Security Force (IBSF) – BSFI and the Indian Police Force (IPF), including the people also behave with them sympathetically.”

Similarly, in another Eastern Indian State, Assam’s Karimganj district – everyday, Bangladeshis are regularly used the Kunshianra river by wooden Engine Fit Country Boat (EFCB) or without EFCB and have reached the Fakirabazar, Tilabazar, Lakhibazar, areas either as a rickshaw-puller or daily-labour. However, interesting fact is that the Bangladeshi rickshaw-pullers or hand-barrow-pullers have two licenses. One is Indian and the other is Bangladeshi. When they enter into India for jobs or work, they have used the Indian one as a document and have returned in the evening.

To prevent this illegal incessant flow of Bangladeshi infiltrators, rampant smuggling and nonstop noxious anti-Indian activities (by the dreaded insurgents and religious fundamental groups and their leaders), India is constructing International Barbed Wire Border Fence (IBWBF) across its border with Bangladesh.

As a result of this, more than lakhs of villagers in Eastern Indian States like, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, West Bengal (WB) and Mizoram are not only worried, but also on the other side, similarly, Bangladeshis are become unhappy. Because, the ‘relation’ (whether it is social or cultural) of both the countries have been principally dependent on ‘informal relation’ or simply say, illegal international border relation, while per year, the India’s formal (that is, social) relation with Bangladesh is negligible.

“If the IBWBF is erected completely on the international border, social and cultural relation with Bangladesh may fully stop and lakhs of people (that is, a tenth of Tripura State’s populace), who are directly or indirectly involved with this ‘trade’ across the international border will be affected,” assumed the local residents of the Indo-Bangla IBVs.

“It is an open secret and common matter to us. It is also true that it is impossible to detect a Bangladeshi from an Indian unless and until either Photo Identity Card (PIC)s or Citizenship Identity Card (CIC)s are introduced, as the physical appearance, behavior pattern, custom, religion, language, culture et cetera of the Bangladeshis are almost cent percent similar to those of a portion of people residing in the Indo-Bangla international border areas. Because, the Bangladeshi people has a common stock with that of Indian States like Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, West-Bengal (and except Mizoram sector),” disclosed the local inhabitants of the IBVs.

According to the chief of Indian Central Public Works Department (ICPWD), who constructing the IBWBF, “The Northeast Indian States, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and WB have thousands of thousands kilometres international borders with Bangladesh; although, major portions of the boundary already has been fenced off.”

“Although, in the rivers – it is too impossible and in land areas, where the international borderline either passes through the houses or divides a weekly-hat (that is, ‘village-market’)s. And this is why, BSFI has also asked the Indian State Governments, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and West Bengal to take steps to push back the markets to at least 08-kilometres inside the international border (to effectively check influx). This fence and the road that are urgently needed to be constructed are not very easy to do.

After the thorough scrutinizing, it has been found that the families of the IBVs (comprising about thousands of inhabitants) will misplace and their paternal and public (that is, Government) properties like – lands, abodes, cowsheds, shops, playgrounds, bazaars, religious places, cultivable-lands, ponds (that is, ethnic-fishery), fruit-gardens, schools, banks, government and private offices, et cetera will be lose, which are fallen outside of the international boundary (or lie in many of the international borderlines) that has been done by the ICPWD,” expressed Suresh Kumar Dutta, who has headed the federal border guards in Tripura.

“Already IBV people are believed that they have been thrown out from India and branded them as Bangladeshi, if the IBWBF has been erected on the international border. Even, the personnel of the BSFI vigil generally up to the IBWBF and rarely the soldiers cross the IBWBF to cover our lands and landed properties. For us, it means living at the mercy of Bangladesh,” bemoaned local political leader of Communist Party of India (Marxist), shortly say – CPI (M), Shahid Choudhury of Boxonagar village (Constutuency) of Sonamura Sub-division, under West Tripura District of the Eastern Indian State, Tripura.

In fact, throughout the international boundary the IBVs specially, in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and WB are perched crossing the borderline, while some of the Indian abodes are in Bangladesh, similarly houses of the Bangladeshis have existed in Indian territory.

“Actually, just at the Indo-Bangla international border, there are hundreds and hundreds of Indian IBVs situated in the states outside the IBWBF, which would be a major difficulty in the days to come. Because the IBVs (outside the IBWBF) and their people remain cut off from their motherland for 12-hours-a-day, from 06:00 pm to 06:00 am.

And it is fact, people living in the IBVs have relatives on either side and they would never disclose any kind of information about an emigrant,” revealed Inspector General of BSFI, North Bengal Frontier (NBF) of Indian Northeast Indian State, WB, K. C. Sharma, when he was posted in the sector.

“Like me, hundreds of people of our village, who live behind the IBWBF have to cross the IBWBF daily through the IBGs manned by the BSFI personnel round-the-clock. All IBGs are opened by the jawan (that is, soldiers) of the BSFI three times (during winter season from 07:00 am to 08:00 am, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm/12:00 am to 13:00 pm and 16:00 pm to 17:00 pm or during summer season from 06:00 am to 07:00 am, 11:00 am to 12:00 am and 17:00 pm to 18:00 pm) a day, each time for an hour, which makes various problems for us, who stay out of the IBWBF. Once the IBGs are locked, we are cut off from our country (that is, India) and are compelled at the forgiveness of Bangladesh. Very seldom does the BSFI soldiers perambulate our hamlets and we feel totally estranged. We are like stateless people without any kind of identity.

Astonishing fact is that a few months ago, I was restrained at the IBG for almost three hours by BSFI jawans and was released only after our family members along with the village-headman arrived and certified that I was an inhabitant of our village. It is an unnecessary harassment and nothing else. It is all very affronting. Here, our life has become hellish,” said angry octogenarian, Mehrul Islam, resident of the village Sardarpara under Jalpaiguri district of the Eastern Indian State, WB that lies on no man’s land.

“The story does not end here, “Moreover, when our relatives visit our houses, they have to give clarifications to the jawans of the BSFI. If our relatives are unable to show their national identity document (whether it is – Voter Identity Card [VIC], Ration Card, National Residential Certificate or National Register of Citizen [NRC], Permanent Residential Certificate or Permanent Register of Citizen [PRC]), they are averted immediately. In a word, here (means : where IBVP (International Border Village People) living and firming within 150-yards of the actual zero-line area), all kinds of ‘free movement and works are restricted’ and the BSFI jawans treat us as outsiders.

The jawans looks suspiciously at our relatives and even check their baggage. Sometimes, the soldiers come into our homes to inspect our belongings. During their examination, if anyone is seen to distantly challenge the BSFI soldiers, he or she is beaten up mercilessly. It is an unfortunate that we are marked as ‘Bangladeshi’ by our own soldiers (!),” astounded Shafiqul Haque, denizen of Khirkidanga village, Darjeeling district of the eastern Indian State, WB.

“We live like foreigners on Indian soil and not just because of the daily wait for the IBG to open. Having erected the IBWBF, the Government of India and its Assam State Government alike seem to have forgotten that few of those across the IBWBF are their responsibility. In a word, it is a ‘life of deprivation’.

The Indian Central Government grants compensation for our hamlet under a special category, but the sanction has diverted to the other heads a number of times by opportunist and corrupt politicians and their political party (Read : Congress-I). Except BSFI, no one understands our plight, It is also the BSFI soldiers and their officers, who always stand by us in times of need,” lamented Muhammad Sahabuddin Sheikh of IBV, Faksharkuti, under Dhubri district of Indian State, Assam, which is located outside of the IBWBF on Indo-Bangla international boundary.

The IBGs made for going in and coming out of the mainland do not remain open throughout the day. This depends upon the ‘fixed timetable’ that has been issued by the Indian Government, while sometimes it depends upon the wishes of the BSFI personnel and as a result, nobody can carry out his or her daily business properly. Even, either the farmers cannot reap their crops or to save their cattle and properties due to 144-cr PC law also remain in force just near the international boundary from sunset to sunrise. As a result of this, the Bangladeshis often stealthily come under the cover of darkness and steal their crops, cattle and properties and the peasants of the IBVs can’t prevent it due to IBWBF.

“The Indian people living behind the IBWBF along the Indo-Bangla international boundary have to face constant fear and danger from the Bangladeshi anti-social intruders and the public, who are unabated, committed their brutal crimes continuously with the help of Bangladesh Defence Rifles (BDR) personnel directly or indirectly.

Even, the growing number of cross-border crimes exit by a vicious circle or anti-Indian rings that help with each other by providing all necessary assists like sheltering, buying, selling, of goods and human beings. As a result, the Indian populace living behind the IBWBF are in clutch of grinding panic and enduring fear-psychosis. However, unfortunately, Bangladesh has never been to check their BDR soldiers to stop them indulge the Bangladeshi criminals, who are attacking the Indian innocent IBV poor people, who are close to the international border. In this connection, so many times flag-meeting have been held between the two respective countries to discuss the international boundary security issues are not shown any good results yet,” rued Samsul Islam Mondal, a poor villager of Bhimpur, one kilometer from the IBOP of BSFI, Bhaigarh under South Dinajpur District of West Bengal State.

“Indeed, on the India-Bangladesh International Border (IBIB) areas, clashes between the IBV peoples and the Bangladeshi anti-socials (with the help of BDR) are very much common – resulting in bloodshed, despite IBWBF, night patrolling of the BSFI and even after issuing an order of curfew with 144 CrPC, and a shoot on sight order.

It is also a fact that curfew (from dusk to dawn) on the IBIB descend on most IBVs, prohibiting any sort of ‘movement’ and these areas seem to be like an ‘occupied territory’ every night. Because, the restriction on night movement has been imposed to check cross-border illegal entrance, crime and others anti-national activities.

Nevertheless, only infiltrators, smugglers and security forces appear to move about with some ‘degree of liberty’! Because of this, frequently the innocent Indians of the Indian IBVs are also kidnapped and later brutally killed by the Bangladeshi anti-socials with the help of BDR during their sudden nocturnal ‘silent attack’. The restrictions have made the lives of the peoples of the IBVs very difficult. They are unable to (fight) retort.

Enmity arises from the fact that not only are Bangladeshi nationals entering into India, but residents of settlements from east to west and north to south of the Indians of IBVs along the IBIB have many a grievance against ‘BDR tyranny’. Inhabitants of the Indian IBVs say a large section of the foreign international border guard force connives with anti-socials, smugglers and criminals groups, who get their share in trans-border illegal movement of the Bangladeshi nationals and illegal activities of the smugglers and the pan-Islamic militias or Islamic religious fundamentalists.

For these previously mentioned particular reasons, the BSFI has gone into a safety overdrive in the face of perceived intimidations by Bangladesh’s illegal activities and this is why the natural rhythm of life has been sternly interrupted and the nighttimes have become mostly in jeopardy all along the IBIB areas,” according to India-Bangladesh relations experts.

Schools Closed

“Children in the IBVs can’t go to schools or educational institutions smoothly, which remain closed most of the time of the year and so the students have nothing to do but loiter aimlessly and many of them have to give up their study. Apart from this, some schools on the zero-line were compelled to close down permanently.

Right now, it is very difficult to stay here. Because, our children have no future in IBV areas. Sometimes, children have to come across to attend school, which is more than 8 kilometres from their IBV, outside of the IBWBF. They walk up and down every day, 15 kilomertres to 20 kilometres to reach their school and house. But, if the school breaks suddenly (for any reason), the students are required to wait anxiously outside the IBG for hours together under the scorching sunshine, because their homesteads are across the IBWBF,” bewailed the elementary school teacher of 708 Bhogdanga-Kutti Lower Primary (LP) School at Vogdanga village of Dhubri district of Eastern Indian State, Assam.

“To tell the truth, our village children are educated due to their hard and constant efforts, without getting any proper facilities like electricity. And electricity! forget it … in our IBV not a single house has been electrified. Electricity in the other IBVs was disconnected after the border fence was erected four to five years ago and at that time, the district administration said that it was not possible to permit more, because, the hamlets have gone outside of the IBWBF, which is absolutely rubbish.

Because of this, our village children have lost their eyes in early stage, while unfortunately, still I am working in the Indian West Bengal State Electricity Board (IWBSEB), as an employee, but our village peoples can’t avail of the facilities of electricity. Now, you tell me, how much torture, we are bearing. Can you imagine?” asked Muftaza Hussain, who lived in Karala village of the Jalpiaguri district of the eastern Indian State, West Bengal.

“Needless to say, by rural Indian standards, our village people to some extent are literate, but, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a bride for my son. The reason is that not a single family in the ‘mainland’ desires to give their daughter for tie the knot with my son, who stay behind the IBWBF. They thought that their girl will either face physical torture by the Bangladeshi anti-socials or become a Bangladeshi national, if wedding my son. Like my son, there are many unmarried young boys and girls in our village facing similar consequences.

Apart from that if by chance, anybody (that is, family) of our village do settle marriage with inside of the IBWBF village people, the jawans of the BSFI create an unnecessary situation,” mourned Dharma Deb Roy, dweller of Hindupara village, Darjeeling district of West Bengal.

“On the marriage day, when the bridegroom’s party reached the IBG to enter into the bride’s house in the IBV, BSFI soldiers asked the bridegroom’s party members to produce identity cards. Tell me, who carries identity cards to a wedding?

For this reason, they wedding had to be postponed and arranged again on the Indian side of the IBWBF for the following day (after the ‘settlement’ or to give ‘identity’ as Indian to the BSFI),” said village-headman of Kanthaligachh village, former East-Dinajpur, presently North-Dinajpur district of West Bengal. The same kind of story was told by Dharma Deb Roy, inhabitant of Hindupara village.

“For the last two to three years, I have tried my level best to wed my daughter, Abiya Khatun but, without success. Not once or twice, but, even, thrice, the parents of a groom, whom we have chosen from a hamlet other side of the IBWBF, have come to see my daughter ; they aren’t allowed in. the groom’s family return profanities never to come back,” said Mamoda Bibi, a denizen of IBV-Nirmalchar hamlet, Murshidabad district of West Bengal.

“Leave aside war, life is misery here, even in peace time. It is anything but normal. We can’t circumnavigate openly. We’re under so-called ‘house-arrest’ or confined in our hamlets. We have no privacy and cannot go anywhere without soldiers prying on us. It is true and we know very much that our International Frontier Guard (IFG)s are doing their duty sincerely to protect (country) us. They don’t even; tolerate a dog’s bark near the IBWBF. At night, we have to keep our doors shut and turn off the light.

It is true that in our IBV out of 14,000-plus inhabitants, only around 4,000 have ‘Indian Electronic Photo Identity Card’ (IEPIC)s, while the rest don’t have any kind of documents to prove their nationality as Indian citizen. You may say the IEPICis are one kind of ‘passport’ to the world outside of our hamlet, Nirmalchar, a river-island, which has surrounded by the river – ‘Padma’, on the India-Bangladesh international border. When the cardholders leave, they must deposit the cards with BSFI officials before leaving and collect after returning.

Even, our IBV villagers carry the IEPIC, when we go to till our agricultural soil,” chorused Atikul Islam and his neighbour, Abdul Khaleque standing near BSFI’s extreme last IBOP at Nirmalchar village of Murshidabad district West Bengal, barely a kilometer from Bangladesh.

“I know very well that they said ‘rule’ is very necessary here, where illegal international cross border movement from Bangladesh is unbridled and without an IEPIC, you may not distinguish between Bangldeshi and the Indian civilians. But, why most of the peoples of our IBV village don’t have IEPIC or related documents – I don’t know.

The Bangladeshi farmers illegally takeover of our lands in connivance with their frontier border guards-BDR beyond the international border. Because, they are very much strategically located and due to the international boundary is not clearly demarcated. As a result, the conflict over possession of land of our IBV hamlet (with our innocent and simple peasants) is a common phenomenon here. We always seek and keep our international frontier border guard – BSFI to solve the disputes smoothly. But, the recovery process is tricky,” summed up Rafiqul Alam, sitting barely a kilometer from the hazy zero-line, which divides the two countries.

“And that’s not all, we have to ask for authorization from the BSFI, when we sell our produce in the International Border Haat (IBH)s, locally known as weekly-markets of the Indian mainland. On our way back from the IBH, we have to account for each and everything we have purchased, be it medicines, rice, salt, cloth, bicycle, poultry or cattle,” said Rahamat Ali, angrily, an inhabitant of Antupara village, Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.

“After independence, we still feel ‘living like caged animals’. We are not Indians and doesn’t our Indian Constitution guarantee freedom of movement. Why we have to face unnecessary harassment and even physical torture at the hands of own forces?

We know very much that IBIB and its problems are a geographical quirk and bureaucratic bungling. But, we are ready to leave our village, if the Government of India provides us ‘land’ beyond IBWBF. It is like living in a container with no hope of a better future,” expressed disheartened Narayan Biswas, native of Char Meghna village, Nadia district, on the riverbank of the river Mathavanga that divides India and Bangladesh.

“I own 20 Bigha (1,28,000 square-feet to 1,60,000 square-feet or 2,88,000 square-feet to 3,60,000 square-feet to 25 Bighas of land, which gives us enough to lead a relaxed life. But, unfortunately, today, the land prices also have crashed from Rs. 75,000 to Rs. 1,00,000 per acre to Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 5,000, while sometimes, ‘priceless’; because, the land has fallen outside of the IBWBF. Not only can’t we sell our forefathers land, which is become out of ethics, even, it is very difficult for most to sell their land and move away,” said Abul Khayeri, wearing a white guernsy, green lungi and ash coloured cap on his head.

Mamoda Bibi and Rashida Bibi, who live in a fenced-in IBV called Nirmalchar, along India’s boundary with Bangladesh, are manacled to a timetable fixed by the Indian frontier international border guard – BSFI, bemoaned, “If we’re not needy we would have moved away a long time ago ….. what will we do? It’s our fate and we are compelled to stay here by hook or by crook.

Not only that the most painful thing, when our IBV people are harassed, mistreated and tortured by the BDR soldiers, who choose us at the least opportunity and blame us of spying for India. In a nutshell, for our IBV populace have confined in between the BSFI on our side and BDR on the opposite, our lives are burdened with peril.”

“They have simply been thrown to the wolves. 10 IBVs (Pirnagar, Nayamura, Latukandi, Deutali, Gobindopur, Kurikhal, Kachubari, Sandesh, Tesua, Uttar-Lafasail) of Suterkandi and Latu Blocks areas under Karimganj district of the State, Assam has been knowingly kept behind the IBWBF, where about 1,500 to 2,000 odd inhabitants always face the wrath of Bangladeshi anti-social circles and as a result of this, it has built a sense of insecurity among the Indian IBVs,” said former Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Karimganj district of the State, Assam, Longki Pangcho.

“The district headquarter town, Karimganj is situated on the bank of the river Kushiyanra, which separates India and Bangladesh. However, if the IBWBF is made 150-metres inside Indian side from the zero-point as per United Nations (UN) protocol, a vast area of the town’s trade will fall on Bangladesh territory. Not only that, more than 40 to 50 thousand residents living in the 24 IBVs along the river will be not only trapped on the other side of the IBWBF but also would be left homeless,” disclosed Hazi Abdul Wahid, president of the All-Party Border Road Areas Citizen’s Rights Committee (APBRACRC) of Karimganj district.

“See…, there’re our 12 Elementary Primary School, 5 Middle Schools and several temples and mosques in these 24 IBVs, which will be captured by the Bangladeshis if it goes ahead with the IBWBF in accordance with international norms. We can’t support it at any cost,” a member of the APBRACRC, Abdul Basit Chaudhary said angrily.

Similarly, to get rid of the unwanted situation created by the Bangladeshis in time-to-time, the Government of India has wanted to demarcate and erected the entire international border with IBWBF to stop the chaotic law and order situations, including the ‘torture’, created by Bangladesh anti-social elements with help of BDR personnel.

“But, everything has gone in the air. In the name of ‘protection’, our lands are acquired by the Indian Mizoram State Government’s Home Department under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. Bamboo huts have been either broken or destroyed. However, the most astonishing fact is that neither the Indian Central Government nor the Mizoram State Government has any plan to rehabilitate or resettle us.

Around 35,438 IBVPs of 5,790 International Border Village Families in 49 IBVs, who belong to the ethnic Chakma tribe have been living on the banks of four rivers, Harina, Karnaphuli, Sajek and Thega, which outline the natural international boundary between India and Bangladesh, have been displaced or are facing displacement due to the acquisition of their lands by the GOI. The Mizo, another Indian tribal community, face a similar situation.

The most important thing is that our community, residing along the Indo-Bangladesh international border are enormously backward and most of the peoples are inaccessible due to the absence of good communication (roads). The four rivers have been chiefly the backbone or lifeline for survival of our society. Because we are drawing water for drinking, washing, cooking and other purposes, like to conduct business and commerce, as there are no other means of transportation. The most sensible thing is that we also perform the last rites of the deceased on the riverbanks. Not only that the riverbanks are fertile and used for farming vegetables, paddy, fruits and others cash crops, which have gone behind the international boundary for IBWBF.

In 2006, our organization, namely – India-Bangladesh Border Fencing Affected Families Resettlement Demand Committee (IBBFAFRDC) of the Indian Mizoram State lodged a complaint against the IBWBF, erected by four private organizations, National Buildings Construction Company Limited [NBCCL], Engineering Projects India Limited [EPIL], National Projects Construction Corporation Limited [NPCCL] and Border Roads Organisation [BRO], began to acquire the lands of our IBVs, has broken all rules and regulations, which were issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (MOHAGOI).

The private construction companies do not follow the guidelines of the MOHAGOI, where it has clearly mentioned that the four construction companies ‘shall be responsible for liasing with the Indian Mizoram State Government and the Indian Mizoram State’s local authorities for acquisition of lands of IBVPs and getting forest and environment clearance for carrying out the IBWBF and its related works. In a word, the companies are doing their works without any consultation with our tribal inhabitants or the local communities.

The IBWBF has already created numerous problems especially relating to survival of the displaced persons, who have been residing not only outside but also inside (last inch of the zero-line) of the international boundary. Our organization wants the affected families ‘completely and properly’ resettled. But in vain, the calls have fallen on deaf ears of the MOHAGOI authorities.

In a word, earlier our thousands and thousands of indigenous tribal peoples, who’re living along the India-Bangladesh international border in the Indian Mizoram State frontier sector had suffered by Bangladeshi hooligans and now affected fully, even after erection of the IBWBF,” stated a member of the IBBFAFRDC.

Apart from this, problems also lie with other international border sectors, where patrolling is a very difficult task in the hilly and deep forest international border. So, interestingly, the Indian Tripura State Government is the only Government, who declared ‘cash reward’ for any one, who can bring information about infiltration, but in vain, very few has yet supplied any such information regarding illegal entry of anybody.

“In point of fact, these problems occur due to the absence of clear-cut demarcated international borderline in between India and Bangladesh around the hilly places and plain (including forest) areas of India, like South Dinajpur District of the Northeast Indian State, West Bengal and the East and Jaintia Hills Districts of Eastern Indian State, Meghalaya.

Sometimes, the railway line that runs between India-Bangladesh is also treated as the border. But, the same often fails to serve the purpose for preventing this infiltration. Bangladeshi passengers often jump into the Indian border from the running train.

Rivers or streams may serve as the natural boundary between the noted two nations. But, these rivers or streams are too small and ineffective to prevent Bangladeshis entering Indian lands, like Kushianra river in the Karimganj district of Assam.

“The ‘Indo-Bangla Accord’ is also a factor, this makes scope for Bangladeshi fishers to enter into easily. This happens, when they come fishing in Indian rivers or streams,” said a BSFI official posted on the international border.

Another problem is, hundreds and hundreds of Indian cultivators living near the international borderline area in the states of India, use to cross the fencing everyday for cultivating their plots of land lying beyond the IBWBF to produce jute, paddy and mustard. These plots of land go to the other side of India, (that is, Bangladesh) and as such these cultivators have to cross the fence to cultivate their plots of land.

The cultivators go there in the morning and come back in the evening through the IBGs by the permission of BSFI jawans and so they cannot have their lunch in the afternoon. They have it only, when their wives and children and the other members of the family supply the foods stuff through the fencing at lunch hour. Some peasants even, can’t return to their houses and go to take rest under the shade of the trees after finishing their works of the day till the IBGs open.

Sometimes, these farmers, who are required to register their names and all the necessary equipment including cattle in the BSFI’s ‘Daily Registrar Book’ with the help of BSFI jawans every morning at 07:00 am to 08:00 am before they are allowed cross to the IBWBF and enter into their land for cultivation and back to the pavilion at 04:00 pm to 05:00 pm. Although, BSFI soldiers open the IBGs three times daily for the cultivators. Every now and then they are allowed to enter and exit through the IBGs only upon acceptance and surrender of a small ‘token’ given by the BSFI soldiers.

If the farmers finish their work before time, they are not allowed to enter into Indian territory (that is, their houses) before the gate opening schedule time. The peasants also remain under small trees. During rainy season, farmers are forced to suffer a lot under the rain, storm and lightning because of these peculiar reasons.

Between 10 to 20 yards, it’s a stone’s throw away – that’s all it takes to walk up to the IBWBF along the international boundary between the two nations – India and Bangladesh. Bhareshwar Sarkar, a poor peasant, instinctively looks at his wrist-watch every-time he has to do that. His fields run along the IBWBF and the laws are as clearly etched out as the boundary : the day lasts for 11 to 12 hours. For the rest of the time from 6 pm to 6 am – Dhubulia villagers in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, near the international border are confined to their huts.

Bhareshwar Sarkar and Jatin Sardar, residents of the Dhubulia hamlet (opposite Chaghria village, in Murshidabad District of Bangladesh) said agitatedly, “Even, if we wake up too early in the morning, say, 04:00 am to 04:30 am, we can’t step out of the hut to get to my fields. Because, regular ‘night-curfew’ is on and the soldiers of the BSFI shoo us away. Finding no other alternative way, I toss and turn in bed till the clock chimes at 06 am.”

It is fact that “The BSFI has imposed 09-hours intermittent ‘night curfew’ (which starts from 20:00 pm) under Section 144, prohibits not only the movement of people within the 1-kilometre radius along the India Bangladesh International Border areas but also restricted the plying of fishing boats on the Surma river. The every day, night-curfew has already yielded results, with the number of illegal migrants (an average of 50 to 60, against nearly 100 such illegal nationals every month) have been caught along the Indo-Bangladesh international boundary,” claimed Gautam Ganguli, the District Magistrate (DM) of Cachar District of the Eastern Indian State, Assam on 20th September, 2008.

Not only that there is robbery, stealing, torture of farmers, raping women farmers during the cutting the food grains and other such incidents occur on the border region now and then by the Bangladeshi miscreants. When these incidents occur, the helpless villagers go to complain to the BSFI personnel and they in turn report the matter to the Bangladesh Defence Rifles (BDR), but in vain. No positive response or result comes out from this, lamented the poor peasants of the Indian IBVs.

In fact, the Indian civilians living in the vicinity of the international boundary suffer the most. The IBV civilians, who have to cultivate their lands and catch fish (in the rivulets and the rivers that flow through both countries) along the international border to maintain their livelihood, live in the permanent fear of being either kidnapped and tortured or abused and later killed by the border guards and Bangladesh hooligans, almost every day. As a result of this, a vast tract of cultivable lands (that fall within the 150-yards) along the international border remains uncultivated.

“The Indian IBV peoples are virtually living behind the IBWBF (that is, within the territory of 138-metres, which known as No-Man’s’ Land) under the one kind of full control of ‘Bangladeshi hooligans or miscreants’ at different levels. Our sorrows, woes and cries do not reach the (Indian) authorities concerned. Still, we have to face the danger of being kidnapped or dragged, harassed or tortured, raped or abused, mugged or killed day-by-day by the criminals and hooligans of Bangladesh,” IBV populaces said with disheartened.

“Look, our jawans do maintain a ‘record book’, which is called ‘Register Book’ of the villagers with their photos and even, every new born is enlisted in the register, who live outside of the IBWBF and cross the IBG everyday and our command is to verify everyone (from child to old one) for reason of smuggling, anti-Indian activities and obviously for illegal migration. If we do not continue strict vigil at the IBGs along the IBWBF, it would be rendered meaningless. Even, in this particular international border, patrolling can’t continue an eye on everybody yet however the IBGs are unlocked and locked at specific times by our soldiers.

It is very regular views that of Bangladeshi people or children either slipping across to gossip with Indian villagers or having food just next to the IBPs.

It is true that in some sectors or areas we have a Register Book of villagers, but, without their photos. In this context, except provide any kind of ‘Photo Identity Card’ to the farmers of the IBVs, it has been seen that the BSFI soldiers only write down the name of the peasants and if a Bangladeshi public appears into India by using the name of an Indian peasant, it would be impossible to identify the person as the BSFI jawan can’t be likely to memorize the faces of all those farmers, who have crossed over the international boundary.

It is also true that the IBV people are frisked and any kind of ‘article’ (whether it is small or big and alive or dead) that they bring is investigated thoroughly. In fact, you know (?) most of the IBV people are engaged in (small to big) crime like, ‘smuggling’. So, if any IBV person carries extra objects or items as ‘ration’, our soldiers have reason to get doubtful and have the right to check the same.

We also admit that our soldiers, who have deployed near the IBGs in the IBWBF, allow the IBV people to come across into India if anybody of the IBVs falls sick at night; but practically the ‘process’ is not easy.

Apart from this, before the International Border Road (IBR) was made, we the people of BSFI have to walk across the paddy fields or have to drive small vehicle on the narrow nonmetallic muddy roads also, which are challenging during rainy season to catch either the Bangladeshis or anti-Indian activists or even, smugglers. And for this reason, our department has been vehemently requesting the Indian central as well as the state governments to issue Identity Cards (IC) to the dwellers of the IBVs, which will make things easier both for the IBV people and the force and to protect the interest of the country,” pointed out S. B. Kakoti, Inspector General (IG) of BSFI, NBF sector of West Bengal, when he was posted in the sector.

According to some observers, this is not a wise policy adopted by the BSFI personnel, because the BSFI do not have any clear identity of those, who go to till their lands beyond the fence. They register only their names and nothing else. Therefore, if any of the Bangladeshi cultivators enters India in disguise of the Indian cultivator, nobody will detect the same and as a result, infiltration will go on smoothly.

This is a great problem and to solve this, introduction of PIC or CIC is necessary for it will help to detect the Bangladeshi infiltrators. This type of identity card will help to eradicate various problems including unnecessary harassments. But, the scheme is given remained ineffective and the villagers are performing their works of cultivation crossing the fence in a usual way.

This is a regular feature and the cultivators of both the countries do their usual functions bearing all sorts of responsibility and loss. Therefore, to put an end to this, India and Bangladesh Governments should mutually discuss the matter and introduce PIC immediately not only to protect the interest of the poor farmers but also to these IBV people to at least reduce their harassment from the international border security guard of India.

“Though, as of today, relations between the Bangladeshi and a few Indian IBV peoples is friendly so far. But, it is not far long or very far, when the cordial relation is become an enmity. On the other hand, astonishing fact is that if the Government of India has been failed in its basic duty of protecting the life and property of these Indian IBV peoples, who have to live at the kindness of Bangladesh 24-hours-a-day and even, remained cut off from their own country 12-hours-a-day then how you expect Indian IBV peoples to have any feeling and loyalty for their own motherland …?,” questioned one of the social reformer-cum-activist Aruna Mukherjee of Northeast India.

“So far, no one seems bothered about the dilemma of these unfortunate Indian IBV peoples (who are real Indian citizens) because they don’t wield any political clout and their number is not adequate to alter the equilibrium of political power,” revealed a renowned social scientist.

“Apart from this, it is also fact that without any land requisition, this burning problem cannot be solved. Because, there are establishments on the international border areas, where the kitchen is in Bangladesh territory and bedroom falls (at South Tripura district of the State, Tripura and Nekipara village under Jalpaiguri district of State West Bengal near IBP Number-760/06-S) in India. Even, in the heart of the town (which lies near the international border), International Border Pillar (IBP)s not only bifurcate a football-field (at Kailashahar town of North Tripura district of the State, Tripura) and but also segregate a temple (at Hatkhola village i n Darjeeling district of West Bengal). Yet many Samshan Mandir (that is, Cremation Place) and Kabarsthan (that is, graveyard) also have gone to the Bangladesh land areas (at Islampur area under Murshidabad district of the State, West Bengal), it’s not fair,” admitted the BSFI officials.

This has happened not only due to the ‘illogical’ making of the International Barbed Wire Border Fencing (IBWBF) by the so-called ‘engineer’ or ‘official’ of the ICPWD but also ‘unscientific’ demarcation by the British Government (that is, Sir Cyril Radcliff, the British Engineer, while dividing the then Undivided India through drew an arbitrary line, during partition between India and Pakistan, [that is, former East-Pakistan, locally called East-Bengal, popularly known as Purba Bangla or Purba Banga, presently – Bangladesh] in 1947), which have been directly affected hundreds of hundreds IBVs and its’ lakhs of populace.

Therefore, all these lead to one of the largest problems. The problem is acquisition of land for building the long IBWBF and IBR, which would help to prevent illegal infiltration. But, this is purely an act of the Indian State Governments. So, the Indian Central Government has asked the State Governments to immediate complete the all the necessary functions related to the acquisition of land for building fence and road through a presidential instruction to correct its Land Acquisition Act, 1964 and then this will be used together with the Central Land Acquisition Act (Act I of 1884). Approximately, a sum of rupees 01.6 lakh per kilometre would be required for building these things.

“We can’t simply throw out them to the mouth of wolves as a human being. So, in this regard, we have taken bold steps. Without any kind of ‘order’ from the Government of India (whether it is State or Central) we have already given them houses under the Indian (Central) Government sponsors scheme – Indira Awas Yojona (IAY), before relocate them inside of the IBWBF,” disclosed Additional DC, Gautam Ghosh of former West-Dinajpur, presently, South-Dinajpur district of the Northeast Indian State, WB on 15th December, 2002, who reestablishes the 13 members of the two families of the village, Satimari under Kushmandi Block of South-Dinajpur district of the State, WB.

“Actually, our simple and innocent village people along the international border aren’t against the IBWBF, but oppose the ‘process’, which is building by the National Building Construction Corporation Limited of India (NBCCLI), the agency constructing the IBWBF. We understand the importance to make the IBWBF along this open international boundary.

However, during ‘partition’, no villagers were engaged, when our area had been surveyed and demarcated by the Radcliff Commission, which had been done arbitrarily. The villagers practically were also ‘forced’ to abide by that unscientific demarcation.

Again, in 1960, a new demarcation was made and fresh international borderline sketched at the ‘expense of the IBV people’s soil. For this reason, we’re now seeking a new demarcation so that we can easily recover our land, which have gone to Bangladesh,” asserted the spokesperson of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) of Northeast Indian State, Meghalaya.

“It is fact that in March, 2006, the Indian Meghalaya State Government temporarily suspended the IBWBF works, following protests by the indigenous tribal peoples in the Khasi Hills district and the Jaintia Hills Districts of the Meghalaya State as their villages have fallen on the outside of the international boundary,” admitted the Indian Meghalaya State Government officials.

Presently, the sad plight of the inhabitants of the India-Bangladesh international borderline is nothing new after erecting the IBWBF on the international boundary. Yet, still, the miseries and misfortunes of the thousands and thousands of people living of the IBVs of the Indian states, which have been attached with India-Bangladesh International Border directly or indirectly, do know no bounds.

In 1992, the Government of India pricks for erecting IBWBF of about 50-metres from the ‘zero-point’ from of IBIB. Thereafter, the work for erecting IBWBF set into motion. But, the most astonishing fact is that while erecting the IBWBF, the official in charge do neither consider the sentiments of the people of those areas nor abide the rules related to it. Thus, instead of 150-metres, 500-metres to 800-metres area of land have been enerometed for doing the same. As a result, many have to loss mostly dwelling houses and the agricultural-lands and so on.

The people of IBVs have to pass their life with great hardship and the people, who live in towns can’t realise unless and until they have direct contact with them. This gives raise the necessity of mixing with them in their day-to-day life and for this they need to go to the spot, where IBWBF is erected to prevent their free movement.

After facing day-to-day lot of troubles and to mitigate the burning-problems of the populaces of the IBVs, who have already many-a-time ventilated their grievances off and on before the honourable court as well as Indian districts administrations of the states that touch the international boundary, but, failed,” angrily says former Agriculture Minister of the Indian West Bengal State Government, Kamal Guha.

The sad plight of the IBV inhabitants of the India-Bangladesh international borderline came to public, when they go to the administration of the districts and the states of India and reveal the stories of their miseries and misfortunes. These IBV people have tried to draw the attention of the either district or state administrations many a time, but, in vain. This failure at the end has compelled them to go to New Delhi, the capital of India for ventilating their voice of grievances to the Indian Central Government.

More than 4 crores to 5 crores of people living on the India-Bangladesh international boundary has been facing a lot of troubles and to mitigate they ventilated their grievances off and on but, at last, ultimately, failed.

“In fact Government of India has no clear-cut policy in this regard. The ground reality and situation are totally different in the western part of the India (that is, in the State, Punjab), where the international boundary touches the Pakistan State and Eastern part of India (that is, in the States, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and West Bengal) that shares the international border with Bangladesh. Because, in Punjab State, there are existed only agricultural lands and IBV people easily go to the international fenced-in along the international border to farm, while in the states like, Assam, Tripura and West Bengal (basically) the picture is totally opposite and different. Here, the international border that shares with Bangladesh is densely populated,” says BSFI officials.

But, the Government of India has given order the go-ahead to the agencies like the BSFI to erect the IBWBF within 150-yards of the zero-line at places, where human habitation doesn’t allow leaving the space.

Though, later, when the Indian Union Home Ministry has been the reason that if the IBWBF is erected after leaving the 150-yardsfrom the zero point, then it has created not only chaos or problems to the Indian IBV populace but also India will lose vast ‘land’ areas of the entire Indo-Bangla international boundary.

So, in this context, Government of India has decided and issued a directive that the IBWBF be constructed from the zero-point. But, Bangladesh has said to be unwilling (attitude) to undertake any construction within the 138-metres from the actual point – ‘zero’.

India has erected a sophisticated International Barbed Wire Border Fence (IBWBF), including International Border Bridge (IBB) and International Border Road (IBR), which had been taken up in the year 1986-1987 along the international boundary with Bangladesh after mounting threat of illegal Bangladeshi infiltration as security concerns. The United States (US) is reported to be helping with technology for the plan.

Bangladesh’s objections are centered on its strife that construction work within the 150-yard (that is, 138-metres of the no man’s land is a violation. Bangladesh Government urge India must erect the IBWBF only at a distance of 150-yard (that is, 138-metre)s from the actual point of ‘Zero Line’ and his own territory as per Joint India Bangladesh Guidelines for International Border Authorities, 1975. Though, in this context, it is also to be noted here that every-time, the Bangladesh border security guards, Bangladesh Defence Rifles (BDR) have fired towards Indian side (specially, on labourers, who are engaged to make the barbed wire fence) to stop international (barbed wire) boundary works somewhere else in the Indian states.

“Even, time-to-time, the Bangladesh Government has given blame to India and claims that the IBWBF, which has been constructed by India is a ‘defence potential’ in the name of Illegal smuggling and infiltration, while as per bilateral pact or international border agreement between said two respective countries, signed in 1975, prohibits construction of any kind of structure, which has been defence potential within the 150-yards from the Zero Line, that is the actual border or no permanent structure would be made up to a certain or below than 150 yards distance from the actual boundary.

India has clearly stated that IBWBF cannot be termed a structure, which has been defence potential, while it has been made to prevent the incessant illegal infiltration and smuggling from Bangladesh to India and nothing else,” emphasized former Director General (DG) of BSFI, Government of India, R. S. Mushairy.

.” ..We have also seen that our neighbour – Bangladesh is always shouting that India is not only violating the human rights rampantly on the Indo-Bangla international boundary areas but also trying to build walls made of barbed wire within the no-construction-zone or no-build-zone, which is nothing but a trick to create an unhealthy relation between two neighbouring nations covering the real fact. While except it is a false acquisition and nothing else. The international boundary areas of both sides are thickly populated and as a result of this, an outcry for the violation of the human-rights is often raised even at the slightest pretext of negligible offence. But, this is not with the Indo-Pak international boundary. Because, in India-Pakistan International Border, there’re ample lands for agricultural activities or farming and others as such this question of violating human-rights does not take effect here. That’s all …,” vexed BSFI Company Commandant during conversations, who posted at Ramraikutti IBV, under Dhubri district of Indian State, Assam.

It is fact that erection of IBWBF on the Indo-Bangla international border is a crucial issue for the people of both India and Bangladesh. The peoples of Bangladesh blamed, “The erection of IBWBF on the international boundary will increase the activities of the International Border Security Guard (IBSG)s on the international border. As a result, this increase of the movement and intervention of Indian para-military force, the International Border Security Force (IBSF) and so the people of Bangladesh can’t carry out their day-to-day duties easily. Further, it hits upon the ‘social life’ of Bangladesh. Such as : interaction of cross border communities, cross border trade and cross border movement (especially, for marriage, education and medical purposes, et cetera) can’t go smoothly.”

But, the people of India don’t agree to this idea. The Indian populaces think, “If it is not done, several problems will crop up, like illegal movement and unwanted business – smuggling, stealing, robbery et cetera and the International Border Security Guard (IBSG) posted to guard the international boundary line will fish up personal benefit from this. Taking bribe or drawing illegal gratification will set forth and as a result, this will help to ignore the interest of the country.

Indeed to put a check upon the illegal cross border activities, IBSF has been posted in the borderline. But, it turns fruitless to do away the problems. It is found that personnel of IBSGs of both the sides are often getting involved in taking bribe or so when any kind of transition is made, whether it is goods or human beings or live-stocks. The amount paid for each transaction is not alike. It varies from place to place or so.”

The most of the peoples of India and Bangladesh IBVs are agriculturists and so depend upon farming. Beside this, they have no other ‘source of income’. There’re scopes for funding industries in this international bordering villages and slums area but due to political rivalry and red-tapism of the administration this hope of funding industries gets shattered.

Even, the small and big Indian industrialists are faltered to set up the industries (whether it is small or big) near the boundary due to either the lands are fallen in disputed zones or areas or unnecessary ‘harassment’ by the administration (whether it Para-military or Military or Police)s.

Thus, the people of these IBVs always remain plunged into the sea of misery and to get escaped from this, they get indulged in illegal activities, such as : smuggling, cross-border business et cetera.

In some places, the inhabitants residing in and around international border areas may not be belong to same caste, creed, colour, community and religion. They have many differences in their way of life but still in one point, they possess the same view. It is nothing but, their economic life. Therefore, to mitigate the woe of their socio-economic life, they woo with people, whether he or she is a Hindu or a Muslim. To strengthen this bond of relation, they attend all festivals and ceremonies, whether it of the Hindu or of the Muslim, whatsoever.

After finishing into their day-to-day works (that is, farming their agricultural lands, which have fallen in the No-Man’s Land), the peoples belong to peasants community, who always grow under the pressure of economic burden, finding no other alternative always meet together in an open field, which also lies on the No-Man’s Land (forgetting the barriers of caste, creed, colour, community and religion and) to solve their own problems.

Apart from this, actually, the Government of Bangladesh never is taking any meaningful action to prevent the illegal migration of Bangladeshis to India. Because, the population of Bangladesh is caused by community’s (specially – Muslim) religious practices, including neglect of family planning and this is why, it has been cleared that Bangladesh is one of the fastest population growing country in the world, where every-year population is growing at around 02.80 million to 03.00 million and which has caused a demographic explosion. And in search of ‘living space’, the Bangladeshi nationals always are trying to enter into the fertile river-islands of Brahmaputra and Ganga valleys of Eastern Indian States – Assam and West Bengal respectively, which is their common and natural behaviour.

“It is true that the India-Bangladesh international boundary is ‘peculiar’ as it dissects natural boundaries like – inaccessible terrain high hills and long rivers and even, human habitation (like houses et cetera). It is an impossible task to seal the international boundary, because the terrain is such … such kind of porosity will always be there. Not only that some parts of the IBWBF cannot be fenced as the terrain is either riverine or has thick vegetation,” said DG, Ashim Kumar Mitra of BSFI at a press conference at New Delhi, the capital of India on 7th October, 2006.

The Government of India has been erecting IBWBF along its 4,096 kilometre long International Border with Bangladesh that runs through five Indian States – Assam, Tripura, West Bengal (WB), Meghalaya and Mizoram to protect the country from illegal migration, smuggling, religious fundamentalism, insurgency and anti-Indian activities or crimes from across the porous international boundary.

But, unless the Government of India tackles it immediately in a proper way, India will have to face dire consequences in near future from this eastern front. Then what is the way out? The only solutions are at present

  • To look for ‘Constitutional Safeguards’ for ethnic populaces,
  • Issue immediate National Identity Card (NIC)s with picture including Voter Identity Card (VIC)s,
  • Sealed the International Border with electrified 24X7 in line with the country’s western boundary with the nation – Pakistan,
  • Handover the International Border to the Indian Army,
  • Strict vigil on the International Border round-the-clock,
  • Floodlights should be (immediately) set up near the all the International Border Out Post (IBOP)s, manned by the BSFI jawans, which will be on after sunset and off after the sunrise and
  • The distance between two said IBOPs will also be diminished/reduced so that the IBOPs become visible to the next ones, while presently the normal distance between two IBOPs is around 05/06 kilometres to 07/08 kilometres, which is high by international standards.
  • Both India and Bangladesh start joint patrolling to understand and solve each other’s problems or difficulties.



    A. West-Bengal (India) & Bangladesh 0001 to 1001 02,217.70

    B. Assam (India) & Bangladesh 1001 to 1067 262.00

    C. Meghalaya (India) & Bangladesh 1067 to 1338 443.00

    D. Tripura (India) & Bangladesh 1338 to 1397 (North) 1397 to 2250 (South) 856.00

    E. Mizoram (India) & Bangladesh 2301 to 2358 318.00

    TOTAL India-Bangladesh International Border 0001 to 2358 04,096.70

    Source : Border Security Force of India.




    01. West Bengal (WB) 02,216.700 507.000 01,021.000 670.000 01,177.000

    02. Assam 263.000 149.294 071.500 40.680 189.970

    03. Meghalaya 443.000 198.060 201.000 173.060 371.120

    04. Tripura 856.000 — 736.000 654.490 654.490

    05. Mizoram 318.000 — 400.000 85.010 85.010

    Total INDIA 04,096.700 854.354 02,429.500 01,623.240 02,477.590

    Source : Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.



    SERIALNUMBER NAME OF THE INDIAN STATE IBR(Total Length)(In Kilometres) IBRIN PHASE-I (Completed)(In Kilometres) IBRIN PHASE-II (Sanctioned)(In Kilometres) IBR IN PHASE-II (Completed)(In Kilometres) IBRIN PHASEI & II(In Kilometres)

    01. West Bengal (WB) 01,616.570 — — 01,616.570

    02. Assam 176.500 077.500 060.120 236.620

    03. Meghalaya 211.290 204.000 192.750 404.040

    04. Tripura 480.510 269.000 181.510 662.020

    05. Mizoram 153.060 246.500 132.270 285.330

    Total INDIA 02,637.930 797.000 566.650 03,204.580

    Source : Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

    References :

    ww. Livelihoods On Line At Indian Border – BBC News – Subir Bhaumik, dated 28th June, 2005.

    xx. Human Cost Of Dhaka-Delhi Row – BBC News – Subir Bhaumik, 05th February, 2003.

    yy. India Bangladesh Border Clash At Pyrdiwah – Anirban Roy – Hindustan Times, 17th April, 2001.

    Shib Shankar Chatterjee is a former BBC, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Statesman & The Telegraph Contributor-cum-Correspondent from Northeast India, who specializes in investigations of important issues affecting the people of South Asia, specially, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan & Myanmar.