Secret Dossier of Land Dispute Between India and Bangladesh

International Border Disputes & Adverse-Possessions of India-Bangladesh International Border Inconceivable Truth – Indian Peasants Pay Tax But Bangladeshi Farmers Get Ownership

Karimganj is one of the most important district headquarter towns of eastern Indian State, Assam, which lies on the international border between India and Bangladesh. Patharkandi Block area is one of the key Block areas of the Karimganj district, which also lies on the international boundary. For this reason, the Patharkandi Block is always a significant point of discussion. This is especially so, among the inhabitants of four nearby International Border Villages (IBV) and a Tea Estate.

The four IBVs are:

  • Karkhana Pathini (known as : Karkhana Putni-RH-1621)
  • Baro Pathini (known as : Baro Putni-RH-1622)
  • Lathitilla (RH-4727)
  • Dumabaroi (known as Dumabari (RH-1725)

    The Tea Estate (TE) is Pathini Tea Estate (known as : Putni TE) or Pathini Tea Garden (known as : Putni Tea Garden-RH-2521).

    Adjacent to the Pathini Tea Estate, there are four villages. These are Shollofut (that is, Sixteen Feet), Champabari, Chengmari and Piplagul, where the tea garden labourers live.

    All these villages are located in the international border area. The total land area of the IBVs is 1,355.16 acres.

    Bangladesh Tried To Claim Patharia Forest Area

    In 1923, Patharia Forest area, which is within the Madanpur-Pallathal Tea-Estates, was reorganized as a Forest Reserve. Around four Hectares of land in this particular forest area was illegally occupied by Bangladesh and the area was illegally used by Bangladeshi nationals for their Paan (that is, Betel or Betel-leaf) cultivation. When Bangladesh split from Pakistan, the entire Patharia Forest area of Madanpur-Pallathal Tea-Estates was illegally demanded by the Government of Bangladesh. But the Government of India refused to hand over the areas,” stated the Deputy Commissioner or Deputy Collector or District Collector (DC)s of the Karimganj district.

    “Since 1947, the 1,355.16 acres of land was always under the constant threat of East Bengal (that is, locally called – Purbo Bango or Purbo Bangla, which was later renamed East Pakistan, locally called – Purbo Pakistan [of West Pakistan, known as – Poshchim Pakistan] of present Pakistan State) and then Bangladesh (after 16th December, 1971) in various ways.

    “The 1,355.16-acres (that is, 751-Bigha 38-Katha 20-Lechha) of land covers – Lathitilla – (365-Bigha 14-Katha 15-Lechha) 000.000-acres, Dumabaroi – (229-Bigha 00-Katha 00-Lechha) 126.75-acres, Baro Pathini – (119-Bigha 06-Katha 00-Lechha) 767.96-acres and Karkhana Pathini – (38-Bigha 18-Katha 05-Lechha) 460.45-acres, on the Indian side. Similarly, on the Bangladesh side, Lathitilla – 120.25-acres, Dumabaroi – 75.7-acres, Baro Pathini – 39.44-acres and Karkhana Pathini – 12.87-acres, which adds up to about (750-Bigha 19-Katha 4-Lechha) 248.26-acres of land.

    “In Pathini TE areas – Pathini TE alone has 49.39 acres and Pathini Reserve Forest 9.89 acres (which comprises 5,358.980-acres) of land. These figures (Indian side, Bangladesh side and Pathini TE) have been mentioned or showed or recorded in the records of Director of Land Record & Survey, Government of Assam State, India’s recent reports,” stated the circle officer of Patharkandi Circle Office of Karimganj district, M. A. Lashkar on 27th August, 2011. (See Table-I)

    An unnamed official in the DC office in Karimganj district, who was not officially authorized to speak about this matter, said “Earlier, according to our records of the Land & Revenue Survey, Government of Assam State, India, since 1947 and 1965 (just before the Indo-Pak War, 1965), the total land area of Pathini TE under Tea Trading Corporation of India (TTCI) or Tea Trading Corporation of India Limited (TTCIL) was 5,867.369 acres (2,374.439-hectares), which was a Government of India (Ministry of Commerce & Industry) establishment. It had a vast plot of land and comprised the four IBVs, the tea-estate and its adjoining reserve-forest areas.”

    There is some contention over the size of the area. As per D. M. Group, formerly known as the Mantri Group, Kolkata, West Bengal State, India, “The earlier records of the Pathini TE confirmed, ‘the exact total grant area of the Pathini TE was 17,698-Bigha 13-Katha 9-Lechha. But, during the years 1962-1963, when the Government of West Pakistan had illegally occupied or controlled around 438-Bigha 1-Katha 13-Lechha of the TE, at that time, the then manager of the tea-garden informed the then Deputy Commissioner of the then Cachar District (later divided into four parts of district – Cachar, North Cachar Hills, Karimagnaj and Hailakandi) of Indian State, Assam in a written letter dated 11th May, 1967 after he visited the entire tea-garden and reviewed the matter thoroughly.’

    The records of Tea Board of India (TBI), Licensing Department (List of New Registration of Tea Estate during the period of 01-01-1900 to 30-06-2010) dated – 8th September, 2010, showed, ‘the land area of the Pathini TE is 2,374.439-hectares, which is Grant Area (apart from Grant Area, Applied Area for Plantation – 857.2-hectares) and the Registration Number is 2629, dated 6th December, 1976, under Mantri Tea Company Private Limited (as per File Number – 182/LC).’

    Records also indicate that the tea-garden, once a lush estate on the Indo-Bangladesh international boundary was sold by its original owner Octavias Steel and Company to the TTCI in 1975. After that, the Mantri group (which was formed in 1948 by Govind Prasad Mantri) acquired the Pathini TE on 29th August, 2006, in the name of Vijaya Shree TE from TTCI. Earlier it is fact that the tea-garden was deemed owner-less post the partition of India in the year, 1947, and was afterward nationalised and entrusted to the TTCI. The tea-garden was amongst the largest grant areas of about 2,374.44-hectares available for tea-cultivation. But, most sorrowful matter is that for more than a decade and a half, from the early 1990’s, the tea-estate was in a state of shocking neglect. Later, the entire infrastructure of the tea-garden was in a state of devastation at the time of the takeover. Since then, a plantation development program has been undertaken to revitalize and restore the 857.2-hectares, which were originally under tea cultivation.”

    lathitilla dumabaroi table1
    (Note : Here, 01hectare = 02.47105381-acre and 01-acre = 0.404685642-hectares)

    Land area of Nayagram is 145.000-acres)

    (Source : Director of Land Record & Revenue Survey, Government of Assam State, India & Border Security Force of India [BSFI], 2011)

    “Due to rampant corruption among tea-garden officials and frequent lockouts announced by the tea-estate authority, some members of other laborers’ families died of starvation. The Pathini tea estate, located along the Indo-Bangla border, had become infamous for an increasing number of starvation deaths of its laborers. Around 10 to 17 tea-labourers were reported to have died of starvation during the years 1994 to July, 2001. It was not the end of the ‘black days’ in Pathini Tea Garden (which produces ‘green-tea’) more than 1,800 labourers had virtually been starving since June, 2001, following an indefinite lockout announced by the garden officials,” said Rameswar Tanti, a tea laborer in Pathini TE (which was called the ‘garden of death’ and once a foreign exchange earner. It even received a gold medal in the 1980s from the Government of India for excellence in quantity and quality of tea production).

    Similarly, according to TBI records, dated – 8th September, 2010, the land area of the Promodenagar TE is 2,199.237-acres (890-hectares) (while other sources said 2,140.006-acres, that is, 866.03-hectares), which is Grant Area (apart from Grant Area, Applied Area for Plantation – 153.440-hectares) and the Registration Number is 24, dated 22nd June, 1949, under Arunodaya Plantation Limited (as per File Number – P-9/LC). However, there is no mention about Madanpur TE,” TBI officials noted in their documentation. Other sources said that Madanpur TE is 983.998-acres (398.21-hectares), which is Grant Area (Applied Area for Plantation – 159.78-hectares).

    lathitilla dumabaroi table2
    (Note : Here, 01hectare = 2.47105381-acre and 1-acre = .404685642-hectares)

    Land area of Nayagram is 145-acres)

    (Source : Government of Assam State, India & Indian National Political Party – Congress [Indira], Indian Assam State Unit, 2011)

    The President of India Owned Pathini Tea Estate

    In this connection, it may be referred here that “This particular TE land was purchased from the British Raj, in the name of the then ‘Indian President’ due to the various geographical causes and to protect the unity and dignity of India. But, the interesting fact is that, it was the only TE, whose owner was the President of India. However, the most unfortunate thing is that one fourth of that TE lies under the possession of former East Pakistan and now under Bangladesh administration. It is also fact that tea-garden’s situation was very deplorable. Despite the TE’s deplorable conditions, lots of peoples of those four IBV and the only tea-garden, (who have lost their 248.260-acres fertile agricultural lands and properties) were working in that particular tea-garden area to somehow manage or run the family, but couldn’t survive properly. Ultimately, so many peoples of labour classes of those IBVs had to pass their days without any payments and few of them died a painful death,” according to one official of the Circle Office of Patharkandi Block of Karimganj district.

    On 2nd July, 2001, Monilal Goala, a Cha Sramik Union leader (the vice-president of the Cachar Cha Sramik Union, or CCSU of Cachar District) and the tea-labourers of Pathini TE alleged, “The Kolkata-based TTCI, which took charge of the tea-garden from Assam Tea Trading Corporation (ATTC) of India, is not much concerned about the tea-labourers of Pathini TE, who are almost dying. Not a single official of the tea-garden bothered to give any answer about the reason why the tea-labourers are dying one after another, can you imagine?”

    “The International Border Posts in the Pallathal Tea Estate area in Karimganj district were erected way back in 1962, and the Indian Government failed to guard or look after the area and that is why, at that time the Bangladeshi citizens managed to intrude upon the area illegally and later Bangladesh Government got a chance to claim that the area was under her adverse possession,” added another CCSU member. The Pallathal Tea Estate is registered with the Bangladesh Tea Board, (BTB) and is a member of the Bangladesh Tea Association, (BTA).

    According to reports in The Daily Star Newspaper of Bangladesh,

    “As per the documents as well as the records of the Directorate of Land Record & Survey, Government of Bangladesh (DLRSGB), Pallathal TE that falls under (East Shahbazpur Post Office and Barlekha Upazila of Juri Circle) Moulvibazar district of Bangladesh was set up in the 1920s, as Pallathal Division of Hindustan Tea Company Limited.” Around 500 workers were working on the tea-garden, brought in by the English from various parts of the then Undivided India and living in this particular tea-garden for generations. They were mostly Hindu community.

    “The factory of this TE was set up in 1934. This particular TE divided into 12 sections. Initially, in the late 1920s, the TE had set up 4 sections; these were Number-01, Number-02, Number-03 and Number-04, while later, in early-1930s it was actually followed by another 8 sections; these were Number-05, Number-06, Number-07, Number-08, Number-09, Number-10, Number-11 and Number-12 respectively.

    “The TE was sold to one Kolin Bihari Roy, who ultimately sold the TE to Pushpa Rani Chowdhury, around 1953-1954. Pushpa Rani didn’t sow tea saplings or did any tea-plantation in the revealed Number-02, Number-03 and Number-04 sections of the tea-garden, only because of that the area was fallen under ‘disputed zone’ or ‘disputed place’, with India, which comprised around 360-acres of land. And it was not suitable for producing tea, rather cultivated Paan.

    “Meanwhile, Pushpa Rani Das sold her tea-garden (that is, Pallathal TE) to Riazur Rahman between 1989-1990. Nevertheless this time, though the owner of the tea-estate has been producing tea in the above-mentioned sections but never cultivating tea in the disputed areas. Instead of tea plantation, he has been planting betel leaves, bamboos and rubber trees. Even, the people of Khashia Tribe of Bangladesh produce betel leaf on a portion of the disputed 360-acres of area.

    “However, the documents and papers showed that the DCs of the then Cachar District (which later divided into four parts of district – Cachar, North Cachar Hills, Karimagnaj and Hailakandi) of Indian State, Assam and Undivided Sylhet District (which later divided into four parts of district- Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj and Maulvi Bazar) met in the year-1976 and decided that status quo of the 360-acres of disputed land area would be continued until finalisation of the issue at the both the state’s governments echelon. It can be mentioned here that out of 1,200-acres of total land area of the tea-garden, 360-acres land comprises Number-02, Number-03 and Number-04 sections (which were leaving out during the erection of IBWBW by the Government of India), while rest of 840-acres of land constitutes Number-01, and Number-05 to Number-12 of the tea-estate.”

    A total of 329 families were directly affected and shifted to the Indian side, who had land Patta and had valid or original documents from the British Government and paid their Khajna (Land Tax) to the exchequers of first the British Government and after that Indian Assam State Government, until the year 2000. Those original documents had the seal and signature of former Settlement Officer of earlier Pratapgarh Mouza, Sylhet Division of East Bengal of 19th September, 1914. The 329 families came from Lathitilla IBV area, (around 26 families); Dumabaroi IBV area, (around 40 families) with Pathini TE; Karkhana Pathini IBV area, (around 149 families) and Baro Pathini IBV area, (around 114 families).

    Referring to this matter, Mrinal Kanti Das, the DC of Karimganj district informed the Indian Assam State Government earlier and mentioned (in his letter – Vide Number – KPE/113/2010/26, Dated 22nd February, 2010), “If the portions will go to the hand of Bangladesh permanently, then local public of that area can raise massive hue and cry, and even, if necessary, then they will organize a mass movement against the decision of Government of India that Government of India betrayed them and gave the lands without their proper consultations and compensations.”

    “We paid tax for our paternal lands and Bangladeshis will enjoy the benefit or get the ownership of our lands. Where does this rule exist? Have you seen anywhere in the world?,” questioned one dweller of the Lathitilla-Dumabaroi IBVs, Ramsundar Goala.

    He further taunted, “If we don’t pay land tax, then our so-called beloved Indian Assam State Government (IASG) sends us notices or letters that we are ‘Bangladeshi citizens’. And this is why, we are bound to pay or given land tax each and every year to the IASG in this matter, even, since British regime.”

    “It is fact that IBVs – Karkhana Pathini and Baro Pathini are under Indian possession since 15th August, 1947, while on the other hand, it is also true that the district administration of Karimganj district has been collecting land revenue every year from the 329 Indian families, who are residing on the disputed four hamlet area and a tea-garden, which lie on the Indo-Bangla international boundary. These IBVs belong to Bengali-speaking Hindu community, but the land of IBVs – Lathitilla and a few portions of Dumabaroi and the Pathini TE are now under the administration of Maulvibazar district of Bangladesh,” revealed Karimganj district DC, Joychandra Goswami on 11th December, 2004, according to the records.

    It was caused by the British engineer, Sir Cyril Radcliff, who was appointed by Great Britain in June, 1947 at the chair of two Boundary Commissions and drew an unscientific and illogical arbitrary line to divide the two states. Not only that even, as a result of this, a few members of ‘dispute’ were also arisen (in some portions of the four IBV and a tea-garden area) between the two neighbouring nations, unnecessarily. Apart from these, earlier East-Pakistan and present Bangladesh were also forcibly occupied or illegally possessed a few portions of the four IBV and a tea-garden. And as a result of this, the inhabitants of that India IBVs thought that they had ultimately lost their lands in the hands of earlier East Pakistan and now Bangladesh.

    .” .. Kisun Chauhan, Jagabandhan Kanu, Ganga Bisun Kanu, Parbati Bhar, Manilal Bhar, Murli Raj Bhar, Ram Kusum Kairi, Jaihind Kairi, Janardan Prasad Kairi, Hiralal Goala, Shangram Goala, Sibpujan Goala, Jayprasad Goala, Bidyapati Upadhayay, Nagendra Kumar Das, Ram Sundar Goala and others (Jayananda Goala, Satya Narayan Goala, Shankar Chauhan, Anowar Hussain, etcetera), who have Jomir Dolil (that is, a permanent Land Deed or Land Record), Jomir Khajnar Roshid (that is, Counter Receipt of Land Tax) and controlled over the four IBV (including Lathitilla and a few portions of Dumabaroi IBVs) and (so-called disputed) tea-estate are still depositing their land-revenue of these IBVs to the exchequer of the Indian Assam State Government, as per Land Revenue Act (LRA) system of India and this has been going on since pre-independence period. These above our beloved peoples of the four IBV and a TE have possessed or have paternal lands and landed properties in their above respective four hamlet and in this context they have each and every related valid documents, which had given by the earlier British Raj and later by the Indian Government; but surprisingly, despite unwillingness, now they have to go forcibly to Bangladesh.,” questioned Nilotpal Das, local leader of the Indian nationalist political party – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    However, Government of India on various occasions raised those ‘illegal occupation’ and ‘illegal activities’ of earlier East Pakistan Government of Pakistan and now Bangladesh Government. But, nothing happened so far. On 10th June, 2001, the Indian Home Ministry officials pointed out, “Look, when we asked our counterpart – Bangladesh, in this perspective (that is, for illegal possession and their illegal activities), at that point, they simply avoided it. But, when we further raised the issue and asked for specific revenue documents (next time) on that basis they were illegally occupied the Indian lands; at that time, Bangladesh officials replied, ‘we do not have it. It must be with your respective department of Director of Land & Revenue Survey, Government of India’. Even, when we offered to have a joint survey for the disputed areas conducted by a third party, at that juncture, it was stonewalled on the excuse that there was no such clause or condition in the accord of India Bangladesh Land Border Agreement, 16th May, 1974.”

    Meanwhile, during 1987-1988, the Indian Central Public Works Department (CPWD) in first phase, Indian National Building Construction Corporation Limited (NBCCL) in second phase during the year – 2005 and Indian National Project Construction Corporation Limited (NPCCL) in third phase during the year 2008, started to build the International Barbed Wire Border Fence (IBWBF) along the international boundary areas in the entire Kaimganj district. At that time, in that particular sector – Lathitilla and Dumabaroi (in the year 2008), the officials of the company faced tremendous wrath of the peoples of the four IBVs, which ultimately compelled the company to build the IBWBF on the sector after left the so-called disputed areas or portions or keeping the four IBV and the only TE area, which is around 2.874-kilometres open.

    The ‘bone of contention’ between the two states in this Lathitilla and Dumabaroi sector is – IBVs – Lathitilla and Dumabaroi (but, a few portions, which is called – Tilla area, means – small mound or hillock) area (that is situated western side and the place is without any human habitation) as well as the Pathini-TE. And Bangladesh illegally occupied this particular portion.

    “Before and after 1950s, there were lots of fierce clashes in these four IBVs. During the Liberation War, of 1971, there was a another fiery fight held between the Mukti Bahini (that is, Liberation Force) cadres and the soldiers of East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) of Pakistan, which was later renamed after creation of Bangladesh nation as – Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and presently known as – Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB), at this particular point,” the local peoples of Karimganj district said.

    It can be noted here that as per BGB records, “The Border Guards of Bangladesh or Border Guard Bangladesh, actually earlier, that is, in the year, 1795, it was known as – Frontier Protection Force (FPF) under East Indian Company (British Rule), after that it was again renamed as Ramgarh Local Battalion (RLB). Then in the year 1861, this frontier border guard renamed as Frontier Guards (FG), after that in 1891, it was again renamed as – Bengal Military Police (BMP). This force was again renamed as Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) in 1920, then in 1947 it was renamed as East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) under East Pakistan of Pakistan State, and after creation of Bangladesh nation in 16thh December, 1971, it was again renamed as Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in 1972, and again on 23rd January, 2011, it was renamed as Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB).”

    “In 1958, the Pakistan Security Force (PSF) – EPR first opened fire upon the peoples of the Mokamtilla (Patharkandi Block) areas, which is near the IBVs (that is, in and around Lathitilla and Dumabaroi areas). In the same year (that is – 1958), there were several questions arisen about the incident on the floor of the Indian Parliament (IP), but unfortunately, the reply (or speech) of the then Prime Minister of India (PMI), Late Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru was worthy of being remembered.

    “The astonishing opinion passed or answering the questions by Late P. J. Nehru on the context of above fierce incident was – ‘Those four villages and a tea-estate (especially, Lathitilla and Dumbabari hamlets) belong to East Pakistan of Pakistan. There is no doubt about that and the peoples of those villages are belong to Muslim community and few Hindu families. Therefore, there is no need for inclusion of the villages within India. Left these villages …..

    However, we occupied those four villages and a tea-estate, because, Pakistan had kept occupied our some portions or Indian territory. Now we have arrived at an agreement (that is, mentioned about the agreement of the 11th September, 1958, between the PMI, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and the Prime Minister of Pakistan [PMP], Firoze Khan Noon) and will handover those four villages (including, Lathitilla and Dumabaroi hamlets) with a tea-estate (which is called – ‘Bananchal) to Pakistan’ – …..,” disclosed Mrinal Dasgupta on 8th April, 1999 and later his son Ashish Dasgupta admitted the facts too and said the similar thing on 5th September, 2011, who heard entire episodes of the incident from the mouth of his late father.

    Supporting the fact, 68-year-old Sibaprasad Tiwari, a resident of IBV-Chhoto Pathini (known as : Chhoto Putni) lamented, “Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru delivered or gave a baseless and fact-less speech in the floor of IP. Which he actually called – Bananchal (that is, forest lands) area is indeed, or actually Lokanchal (that is, human habitations) area. From, where he obtained those facts and figures or how he delivered an irresponsible speech on the context, is still unknown or mysterious to us.”

    According to the writer, Avtar Singh Bhasin, who wrote in his book (India-Bangladesh Relations 1917-1994), “Pundit Nehru delivered a negating statement about the areas, ‘In regard to exchange of small territories, we do not want to further migration from that place, as far as possible and it is better for the populaces of that areas to live there permanently and accept or adopt the country, to which they will now belong to (means – earlier East Pakistan and now, Bangladesh), it is our advise to the people of that areas’ ……”

    “At that time, that opinion instantaneously enraged the Patharkandi Constituency’s Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Indian Assam State Assembly, Gopesh Namasudra, respective citizens of the Patharkandi areas – Mrinal Dasgupta, Sarbananda Namasudra and others, who had later filed a case in the honourable Supreme Court of India (SCI) against the opinion of PM of India, Pandit J. Nehru, in the same year later. In SCI, on behalf of petitioners, the question was raised or asked by Barrister Sadhan Gupto and M. K. Ramamurthy.

    In this context it can be also noted here that in 1958, the Indian former PM, P. J. Nehru gave that answer after raised questions on the burning issue by the Member of Parliament (MP)s of IP – Mohammad Elias and the S. M. Banerjee, respectively. At that time, Mohammad Elias was a candidate of Communist Party of India (National), (CPIN) and was represented for the Parliamentary Constituency [PC] – Howrah (District) of the Indian State, West Bengal (WB), while S. M. Banerjee was a Independent Candidate) of Kanpur (District) PC of the Indian State, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Both candidates had won the Indian Parliamentary Election, in 1957. But nothing had happened, everything turned fruitless,” stated 45-year-old Tapodhir Kumar Deshmukh and 49-year-old Gautam Deshmukh, who are the sons of Gopesh Namasudra of Patharkandi.

    To solve the problem and the situation of the four villages and a tea-estate between the two states, the other local respective peoples of Karimganj district – Rathin Sen, Ranendra Mohan Das and others later so many times went to the offices of Indian Union Home Ministry and Indian Union External Ministry at the capital of India, New Delhi, but no concrete solution came out. Even though, in the agreement of the 11th September, 1958, which was held between the PMI and the Prime Minister of Pakistan (PMP), Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Firoze Khan Noon, there were mentions of those four hamlets and a tea-estate, which later on protested by the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Janashangha, but ultimately nothing was resolved or sorted out between the two nations in this regard.

    “In fact, at that time, Bimala Prasad Chaliha was the Chief Minister (CM) of the Indian State, Assam. When Indian Central Government, shortly say – ICG (that is, Indian Union Home Minsitry – Govind Ballabh Pant and the PM of India – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru) asked about the ground situation of the four hamlets (including IBVs – Lathitilla and Dumabaroi) and a tea-garden, the CM replied that situation of the hamlets was quite normal, everything was fine and there was no dispute between the two sides. He never helped the four Indian villages and tea-garden and their peoples at that time. In a word, he misled and gave wrong information to the ICG.”

    – former MLA, Gopesh Namasudra of the Patharkandi Constituency, 11th April, 1999

    According to Nagendra Kumar Das, “The ugly attack of the Pakistan Security Force was mainly launched full-fledged in the year – 1959, when the International Border Pillar (IBP) of the India-Bangladesh International Border was started to construct for demarcating the international boundary-line between India and Bangladesh for the first time.”

    It was decided that the Police Station (PS) Kulaura, which is presently under Maulvibazar district (then Hingajia of East Pakistan State) of Bangladesh and the Patharkandi PS, which is now under Karimganj district (former Srihatta District of Undivided India and then Undivided Cachar District of Independent India) of the Indian State Assam, would be the international borderline between the two states – India and Pakistan. As per the plan or scheme, it was also decided that the international boundary-line would be demarcated or made in such a way that the Patharkandi PS would lie in the eastern side, Kulaura and Barlekha PSs (presently under Maulvibazar district of Sylhet Division of Bangladesh), Beani Bazar (presently Sylhet district of Bangladesh) would lie in western side, while from Thal Gung (means – rivulet or small-river, which flows from North Tripura district of Indian State, Tripura and crosses the Karkhana Pathini village and has entered into Bangladesh, that lies just near the IBPN-1800) to northern side, as an international border.

    Actually the ‘root cause of the entire confrontation’ between the two neighbouring states existed since 1959-1960, when it was found that the iron made number plate of IBPs (which were fixed on the foot of the of IBPs that erected on Indo-Pak [presently, Bangladesh] international boundary to demarcate the international border between the two nations properly), were either wrong or misleading or confusing. For an instance – the IBPN-1396 that stood at Piplagul-Champabari IBVs of Karimganj district. In Indian side, the number plate engraved/marked as ‘IBPN-1396’, while on the Pakistan (that is, Bangladesh) side it was seen ‘IBPN-1395’. That means there were vast differences during marking the IBPs, which are still existed and this is why, the problem between two states still existed. But, why it happened, whether it is intentional or unintentional or whimsical, nobody knows. Similarly, it existed also in IBPN-1392, IBPN-1393, IBPN-1394, IBPN-1396, IBPN-1397, also.

    Another cause of confrontation is that to demarcate the international boundary between the two nations of the area (that is, from Pathini Chhara [locally known as – Putni Chhara] Nullah [means : someone called – canal or channel, while someone called – rivulet] to above revealed Thal rivulet). The IBPs (which were also erected at that period on the areas, are now situated just near the bank of the Thal rivulet) were also disputed.

    According to the records of the Indian Home Ministry, Government of India, “M. C. Chagla gave a statement of Lower House of Indian Parliament (IP), that is, Rajya Sabha, that East Pakistan of Pakistan had virtually illegally occupied (a portion, that is, hillock areas of the) Dumabaroi village in the year 1952. While on the other side, other records claimed, ‘actually, the daily incursions and firing had been taken place in this particular sector since 1962. Though, in February, 1962, the villagers of the IBVs – Lathitilla and Dumabaroi were found that the EPR soldiers of Pakistan patrolled the areas suspiciously periodically. It had ultimately come to notice, when in November, 1962, Pakistan illegally occupied or seized IBV-Lathitilla and (a portion, that is, hillock areas of the) Dumabaroi-IBV in July, 1963. It was estimated that Pakistan illegally tried to grab entire lands of the four Indian IBV and a TE (including another IBV – Chhoto Pathini, locally called Chhoto Putni).”

    While a section of scholars in this connection referred, “Lathitilla-Dumabaroi hamlets went under East Pakistan during India-Pakistan War, 1965 and since then it was their possession, presently, Bangladesh and termed as a ‘disputed territory’. Not only that presently, as per official’s records of Indian Assam State Home Ministry department, the present BGB camp at Lathitilla-Dumabaroi area was once used by International Border Armed Force (IBAF), that is, Indian Army legally and belonging to India as well as the adjoining Pathini Reserve Forest areas also. But, this so-called base-camp at last came under EPR of Pakistan’s control after the Indo-Pak War, 1965. Even if at that time Government of India was urged the Government of East Pakistan state of Pakistan to give back the camp or disputed territory to India, but, Pakistan didn’t pay any heed to India’s repeated requests. In due course, Government of Bangladesh also followed similar path or took similar stand on the subject, as India’s appeal to hand over the so-called disputed area or encampment area had all along fallen on deaf ears.”

    In the year – 1963, in Lathitilla area, there was again a fierce incident between both sides. After that EPR jawans had not only harassed the people of the four IBVs and the tea-garden of India but also carried on inhuman, oppression upon them. This frightened them in such a way that they had to leave their houses and took shelter beside Indian International Border Armed Force (IIBAF) camps. This came to light from the opinion of Satyendra Nath Das. Because, the EPR soldiers had at first picked up Satyendra Nath Das from his house and then beat him black and blue until he in fell senseless. This happened because he was vocal against East Pakistan, according to EPR. This was on 31st October, 1963. After that, the EPR targeted the denizen of Karkhana Pathini village, Nagendra Das, but he was out of their reach, because Nagendra Das stayed most of the time at IBAF camp to save himself from the hands of EPR.

    “All these were done under Company Commandant of EPR Force, Hayat Khan, who later on became a frightful figure among the residents of Lathitilla, Dumabaroi, Baro Pathini, Karkhana Pathini, (including Chhoto Pathini, known as : Chhoto Putni), which are now under Patharkandi Block under Karimganj district of Indian side,” emphasized the villager Satyendra Nath Das, resident of Dumabaroi village, who is now around 90-plus.

    He further stated, “It was alleged that EPR force took the opportunity of oppressing the Indian people continuously and tremendously of those areas, because of the apathetic attitude of Company in Charge or Circle Inspector (C.I.) of Lathitilla IIBAF camp, Prabhu Singh. The reason behind our IBAF officer was either his ‘illegal relationship’ with EPR officer’s daughter or a lady, who was a relative of the EPR officer. As a result of this, he always went to visit the Hayat Khan led EPR’s International Border Out Post (IBOP) and received gifts on various occasions. The gifts included breakfast, lunch, dinner, etcetera. But the most interesting fact is that when our BSFI C.I. went to visit the EPR camp after invitation or without invitation, at that time EPR came to the four villages and tea-garden and tortured the Indian citizens mercilessly (from not only child to old one but also girl children to women).

    “In the same year (1963), there was a discussion between both side’s frontier border security forces at brigadier level at Tamabil, the IBV of Sylhet district of Bangladesh over this disputed 1,603.42-acres (648.881-hectare) of land that lies on Indo-Bangla international boundary. It was decided that both sides would maintain ‘Land of Standstill’ keeping themselves 137-metre (150-yards) away from Pathini TE, as a temporary international boundary, till the dispute on the international borderland between the two nations were brought to an end or over. During discussion, at the time, Brigadier Ghashiram represented on behalf of IIBAF.

    According to the agreement, IIBAF gave due honour to that discussion and shifted their IBOP or camp towards 137-metres Indian side, while East Pakistan and later Bangladesh failed to do it. Bangladesh frontier border force had been pursuing the previous policy of East Pakistan like threat, oppression and repression on the residents of the four IBVs and the tea-garden and even, compelled the IBV majority (Hindu) community people to leave their land and captured their homeland by force, later,” briefed one of the IIBAF officials, who came to know from the records as well as from the local senior citizens of the IBV areas and the tea-estate.

    “In this context, it can also be pointed out here that the Indian minority pro-Pakistan (Muslim) community supporters of the four villages and tea-estate were supporting the illegal activities of EPR soldiers from time-to-time and tortured the Indian peoples, who are belonged to Hindu community (Nath-cast) peoples. Seeing this, ultimately the IBV family of the Indian community became disheartened and had compelled to leave their hamlets. I can also remember on 1st November, 1963, the pro-Pakistan supporters Muslim community peoples of our Lathitilla village, hoisted the Pakistani National Flag (PNF). And if anyone of our people wanted to resist or stop that, he or she was brutally tortured by the community peoples. Even, most of the time also they did it in various occasions,” disclosed one of the friend of Sangram Goala (who died), on 10th April, 1999.

    “Actually, it is fact that a section of peoples of former Eastern Pakistan, who generally supported Pakistan, betrayed the Mukti Bahini guerillas, who wanted to liberate their land from the cruel clutches of Pakistan. But, on that day (1st November, 1963), when Pakistani supporters of the Lathitilla hamlet hoisted the PNF, (hearing these) the higher officials of Masimpur (village under Cachar District of the Eastern Indian State, Assam) Indian Army cantonment rushed to the spot to enquire into the matter and then held a serious meeting and after that made a detailed report on the incident and subsequently, sent the report or informed to higher officials at the headquarter, New Delhi, the capital of India. The meeting was held between, Major S. K. Chowdhury, Company Commandant-S. K. Chauhan and Company Commandant of Kukital IBV camp (under Karimganj district), Chikan Baruah of the Indian armed forces.

    In the meantime, the situation became tense and volatile and in the presence of the three Indian armed forces officers, a cross firing took place again between the two forces – IIBAF and the EPR of the two nations, in the Lathitilla areas. When the situation became grave, one of the Indian IBAF Nepali soldiers dug a big bunker with his ethnic weapon – Khukri and helped to save the lives of the IIBAF soldiers, for which he was rewarded or received Presidential Award later by the Government of India for his ‘work’. Local peoples of that area still remember the Sepoy (that is, soldier) of the IIBAF-Indian Army and his brave work,” revealed Ramsundar Goala, a denizen of the IBV near Lathitilla-Dumabaroi.

    In this context, it can be mentioned here that about the Lathitilla village, one of the website (which is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 7th March, 2011 in Bangladesh) claimed, “It is true that with the help of a section of East Pakistan supported peoples, Pakistan Army soldiers captured the Lathitilla village area and hoisted the PNF. But, the people (who were supported the Liberation Force)s of Lathitilla tried to defend their homeland were oppressed inhumanly by the Pakistani people as well as the Pakistani soldiers.”

    During that incident, to save their lives, around 92 of the residents in the IBVs – Lathitilla and Dumabaroi fled and took shelter in the adjacent areas of the Patharkandi Block of Karimganj district like – Chandkhira Railway Station, others (about 49) to Kailaghat area and 30 to 40 shifted in Medli village. Thereafter, these peoples scattered in different places in and around that region for better food, cloth and shelter. But, they received no help from the Indian State Government nor from the Central Government of India whatsoever.

    “In 1963, being oppressed by the Pakistanis, the owners of these plots of land came to the Indian side with a view to living a secured life. The land owners thought that in course of time they would be able to recover those plots of their lands, which was possessed by Pakistan. But, in vain, ultimately later they got dispersed and separated from one to other in search of livelihood. As a result, these unfortunate land owners had to leave in utter distress. Some of them were forced to live on public charity or alms,” lamented Nonagenarian Bidyadhar Tripathi, who lives in Akaidam hamlet, near Lathitilla and Dumabaroi villages.

    On the other side, in 1964, according to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India records were concerned, “It is fact that after the deployment of heavily armed EPR forces of Pakistan from the first week of December, 1964, the situation of the area ultimately turned into a fierce conflict between the two states (on 11th December, 1964). The EPR soldiers started firing at 22:00 pm towards the Indian villages – Lathitilla and Dumabaroi (on 11th December, 1964) without any provocation. Seeing this, Indian Army’s International Border Patrol Group (IBPG) or International Border Patrol Force (IBPF) returned fire towards the Pakistani EPR soldiers. The fierce clash between the two frontier guard soldiers continued sporadically all throughout the day. In this incident, an IBPGI jawan (Soldier) was injured.”

    Local journalist Ajoy Sutradhar, who lives at Patharkandi Block of Karimganj district received information about the incident from the office of the DC, Karimganj District. He said, “It is factual that there was an exchange of fire in 1965, between the EPR and the IBPG soldiers and as a result of this, three IBPG jawan were killed. In a nutshell, I may say, since 1958, East Pakistan fired upon Indian villagers without any provocations or without any causes.”

    “We heard that during the war of 1965, between India and Pakistan, around 25 to 27 Indian Army soldiers lost their lives or had given their lives in the hands of Pakistan Army or became martyrs to save our territory from the clutches of foreign hands or aggressions. Even since then, eight sections of Pathini Tea Estate had gone under the illegal occupation of Pakistan Army,” narrated Rajesh Goala, a farmer of Lathitilla-Dumabaroi IBVs.

    While remembering the similar words about the incidents from the mouth of his father, another Lathitilla-Dumabaroi IBV farmer, Bolen Bharadwaj briefed, “One of our beloved cultivators – Shankar Goala was shot dead by the Pakistani EPR soldiers.”

    “Indeed, at that time, the situation turned so serious, when the Government of India didn’t pay any heed to it properly or didn’t take it seriously; the people of the four villages (including the tea-estate) with the help of others had compelled to inform the J. N. Chaudhury, the then Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Infantry Regiment via telegraph/telegram and had given an entire report of the ground situation. Not only that the peoples of the IBVs even, had to beg interference from J. N. Chaudhury under the guidance of Nagendra Kumar Das. Hearing and seeing the situation, J. N. Chaudhury also responded to it immediately (even after collected inputs from the various Indian Government Intelligence Agencies and civil information) and deputed 8,000 Indian Army soldiers to bring the situation under Indian control. But, to do that the Indian soldiers had to fight against the invading Pakistani force in which the Indian army men had to lay their life. Until the situation was under control, Indian Army stayed there around one month on the four IBVs and the tea-garden areas,” peoples of the IBVs and the TE said.

    However, “When the Indian Army took into their possession and left the place after some time, it put Nagendra Kumar Das into an awakened position. Because, to kill him and his family members, PSF – EPR soldiers vehemently threatened him and his family members severely. As a result of this, he was compelled to leave his house and took shelter in the nearby Indian Army camp,” divulged one of the relatives of Nagendra Kumar Das of the IBV.

    “According to the data of the Indian Assam State Police Force (IASPF) department, at that time, there was a ceasefire between East Pakistan and India, which had effected on 29th March, 1965, but, when India repeatedly offered a ‘no war pact’ to Pakistan (at that time), Pakistan refused to accept it. Ultimately it was broken during fierce encounter incidents started in that sector again in February, 1966, and later in March, 1966. After a break of one month, East Pakistan again started unprovoked firing in these areas,” revealed one of the intelligence officials of the IASPF department.

    “There was a fierce incident took place at Lathitilla IBOP on 18th June, 1971 between India and East Pakistan. After getting proper instruction from Indian Army (Regiment of Rajputna Rifles) commanding officer Colonel Deb Sen, the liberation force under the leadership of Captain Rob with the help of his Mukti Bahini activists and the Indian Army soldiers attacked the Lathitilla IBOP at early morning by hurling grenades and shelling from the artillery. Pakistan army battalion – EPR started a counter attack by firing immediately towards the Indian Army soldiers and the jawans of the Liberation Force (LF), but didn’t succeed. As a result of this, once Habildar (that is, a post or rank of Indian Army as well as the Pakistan Army) and a Sepoy of 22 Baloch Regiment, which is an infantry regiment of Pakistan Army, were caught by Liberation Force soldiers. But, four jawans of Mukti Bahini (MB) were also injured in this clash and Lathitilla IBOP came under the control of Mukti Bahini.

    Extensive guerilla actions occurred in this Lathitilla-Dumabari sector in the months of June, July and August of 1971. Meanwhile, MB guerilla fighters and subsequently by the month of August, 1971, extensively or heavy Indian Regular Army (more than thousands) deployed in the sub-sector – Boropunji. But, most unfortunate and most astonishing fact is that at that juncture, major portions of the local populaces of Lathitilla worked together with the EPR not only to catch more and more fighters of MB, Indian Army soldiers and Indian and Bangladeshi followers but also to capture or get control over Indian IBOPs. The peoples EPR supporters tied tin-cans, in the tree branches and began beating the cans to generate or make sounds the moment MB guerilla fighters entered into the villages.

    Moreover, with a view to catch the freedom fighters of Bangladesh, the villagers (who were the hardcore followers of the EPR of Pakistan) arranged special Ajan (that is, call to prayer or Muezzin’s summons to prayer in a mosque) or Namaj (that is, prayer call for god or worship of god) and delivered the same vociferously from numbers of Mashjid (Mosques), when the activists of liberation force of Bangladesh entered into their hamlets. Actually, these methods resulted to detain of a huge number of LFs by the EPR.

    However, under the leadership of Captain Shariful Haque alias Dalim, who was the in charge of Sub-sector IBOP-Kukital carried on attacks vehemently on EPR of Pakistan, which ultimately resulted huge damage of IBOP of Pakistan of the area – Juri and Dikhush in the mid July, 1971 and at last, by August, 1971, Amasid, Kabala, Lubachhara, Mokamtilla, Nou-nouja, came under the full control of LF of Bangladesh,” claimed the website –

    “Meanwhile, after 15 months of the ‘Agreement’ signed between the then PMI, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh (PMB), Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 16th May, 1974, the father of nation of Bangladesh, popularly known as – Bango Bandhu (means – Friend of Bengal), Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman, with his children (except daughters – Sheikh Hasina Wazed and her sister, Sheikh Rehana, who were on a goodwill tour or visiting at that time in Europe continent [specially at the capital of former West Germany State, Bonn], with Hasina’s husband, Late M. A. Wazed Mianh, a nuclear scientist-cum-researcher at a laboratory), were virtually assassinated by Bangladesh Military coup, led by Major General Khaled Mosharraf and his associates. Later, after overthrew the government, imposed Martial Law (that is, Military dominated civilian regime). On 3rd November, 1975, though he was also himself killed in a counter military coup just after four days later – 7th November, 1975, which installed General Zia-ur-Rahaman of Bangladesh Army in power,” pointed out octogenarian Nishit Ranjan Das, who lives in district headquarter town, Karimganj.

    But, as per the agreement, the new Government of Bangladesh already erected many IBPs for demarcating the international boundary-line (between the two nations) to honour the agreement. Of them, some IBPs were erected in the disputed four IBVs and the tea-estate as well. The Bangladeshi peoples already not only built their houses in the ‘No-Man’s Land’ situated in between India-Bangladesh international border but also carried out their cultivation works, etcetera relentlessly.

    On the Bangladesh side, the IBV-Lathitilla is now situated under the Kulaura Upazilla of Maulvibazar district. Land of Pathini TE is a part of Lathitilla and Dumabaroi hamlets. But, while making of boundary, which had been fixed in 1966, was being treated (or continued) as status quo. Because, the land was under administrative control of Bangladesh. Indeed, the plots of land were possessed and used by the inhabitants of Bangladesh. However, most mysterious thing is that it happened during the ‘Partition’ (that is, in 1947), when Sir Cyril Radcliff did it by a single stoke of his pen and as a result, the areas (specially, Lathitilla and the hilly part of Dumabaroi IBVs) had gone into the possession of East Pakistan permanently and created a dispute between the two nations. Those possessed lands or territories were four IBVs, which were represented as hamlets (namely – Lathitilla, Dumabaroi, Baro Pathini and Karkhana Pathini with a Tea Garden – Pathini) and the lands of the IBVs were also categorized as – ‘Under Adverse Possession of Bangladesh’.

    Since then, the landlords of these so-called enclaves had been persuading both the Indian Central and Provincial Governments, including Indian Home Minister, Governor of North East Indian State, Assam, Assam Accord Department, Indian Assam State Home Commissioner, Secretary of Axom Chukti Rupayan Bibhag (that is, Implementation of Assam Accord Department), Indian Assam State Government and all Indian state (regional), national political parties etcetera to restore the Lathitilla and the hilly part of Dumabaroi IBVs within India; but in vain.

    “It is fact that few days ago in that particular 2.874-kilometre stretch of international land border areas in Lathitilla-Dumabaroi sector, which has fallen in between the IBPN-1397 (Point-‘Y’) to IBPN-1400/1-RI, hadn’t been properly demarcated and rectified and as a result of that presence of huge gathering made by the land owners of the IBVs or dwellers of both sides (whose paternal lands had fallen into each other’s territory) time-to-time), with a view to rescue. Subsequently, even, dispute and bitterness between the two nations had also been seen since 1947. The reasons were the differences regarding the map representation, proper documents of both sides as well as the text of the Radcliff Award, 1947 and that is why that particular Indian piece of land tagged as under adverse possession of Bangladesh,” uttered Indian defence experts.

    “The disputed territory at the IBV Lathitilla-Dumabaroi under Patharkandi Block (in Lathitilla sector) of Karimganj district is exactly, 2.874-kilometre,” said former Joint secretary (Northeast India) of Indian Union Home Ministry, G. K. Pillai.

    “As per map Sheet Number-83/D/2 first addition, the first survey in this context was carried out in 1909. Subsequently other survey was also carried out during India-Pakistan Partition in the year 1947. The plain areas of Pakistan portion of this above revealed sheet had been generally corrected from air photographs on 1.60-inches to a mile scale had taken by Messer Air Survey Company Limited, London during February, 1952 and verified on the ground in 1957 to 1958. The international border between India and Pakistan except the exactly part, south of IBPN-1397 had been demarcated but strip maps showed the international border had been signed by the plenipotentiary of both governments. The un-demarcated section of the international border had been entered in accordance with the best information at present available and its alignment of this sheet hadn’t been surveyed or examined and is not authoritative or reliable. The different type of international boundary pillars with their area showed thus :

    Main International Border Pillar with Number – IBPN-1391

    Subsidiary International Border Pillar with Number – IBPN-1394/6-s

    During the joint international border meeting on 8th February, 1966, between sector commanders of East Pakistan and India, it had been decided that a military working border would be created in this particular stretch and as per the military working international boundary records was concerned a straight-line was drawn from IBPN-1397 (Point-‘Y’) to the middle of Pathini Chhara iron-bridge (which is situated just on Pathini Chhara Nullah and in between the IBVs – Lathitilla and Baro Pathini under Dumabaroi Mouza) and then along the midstream of Pathini-Chhara Nullah to Thal Gung Nullah (GR-452210, that is, near IBPN-1800/3-RI). While on the other hand, as per Indo-Bangla Pact, 1974, reference IBPNs had been raised from Pathini Chhara iron-bridge (on Pathini Chhara Nullah) to triangular international border (that is, tri-junction of Bangladesh and Indian States – Assam and Tripura), near IBPN-1800/3-RI and Dumabari Mouza was come to India including that part, which was under the control of earlier East Pakistan and now Bangladesh, as per earlier decision on the 8th February, 1966. Rrecently, both sides decided an almost similar international boundary of 8th February, 1966, which was settled on or fixed on by the then military department of East Pakistan and India as well.

    The present working international boundary runs in a straight line from point ‘Y’/IBPN-1397 to (the iron-bridge) IBPN-1400/1-RI and from IBPN-1400/1-RI to (tri-junction point of Bangladesh and Indian States Assam and Tripura) RP 1800/3-RI. However, no IBPN had been erected between IBPN-1397 and IBPN-1400/1-RI,” disclosed the BSFI intelligence sources (See Sketch).

    “This has become one kind of enduring ‘disagreement’ between the two nations, which couldn’t be solved by the interference of the concerned authorities of both the sides. Because, the real fact was that the Director of Land Record & Survey of Assam State Government (of India) has been persisting to accept the original Cadastral Map of (the hamlet – Dumabaroi) – 1915-1916 as the basis of demarcation. Because, as per Cadastral Map of 1915 – 1923, these areas (including the four IBVs and the three Tea Estates like – Pathini Tea-Estate, Madanpur Tea-Estate and Promod Nagar Tea-Estate) were under the administration and occupation of the Indian State. And that is why; the Director General of Land Record & Survey of Bangladesh was not ready to accept it but insisted for the Theodolite Traverse Data (especially for the international border hamlets – Lathitilla and Dumabaroi) as the basis for demarcating the disputed parts. Ultimately, the issue imparted to the respective governments of the two states and both states had later decided to set up international boundary working teams to complete the work of demarcation. Though, in this context, the Government of India accordingly already proposed the terms of reference for the teams, but the reply of the Government of Bangladesh was awaited.

    According to scientists, and documented in wikipedia, “Theodolite is a precision instrument for measuring angles in the horizontal and vertical planes, which is mainly used for surveying applications and have been adapted for specialised purposes in fields like meteorology as well as rocket launching technology, but here it is used for only meteorology purposes. On the other hand, Traverse is a method in the field of surveying to establish control networks, which is also used in geodesy. Traverse networks involved placing survey stations along a line or path of travel and then using the previously surveyed points as a base for observing the next point.”

    This international boundary dispute over this particular area thus continued for three to four decades without any positive result but hoped to somehow recover the occupied plots of land, which were gone out of hands of the residents of the IBVs and the tea-estate. It seemed that the Government of India had agreed to that condition without any resistance. But, the inhabitants of those IBVs still think of it and have been trying their best to pursue the Indian Assam State and the Central Governments to look into the case seriously. All this work had been done by those landlords. Already in this matter, ex-MLA, Gopesh Namasudra and Manilal Goala appealed to Assam State and the Central Governments of India to recover the two IBVs with the portions of the tea-garden from the hands of Bangladesh.

    In 1988, Sukhendu Shekhar Dutta (who won the MLA seat of the Patharkandi Constituency during the period of Indian Assam State Assembly Election in 1996-2001) also sent a petition to the office of the Indian Foreign Secretary with the prayer that it should discuss the matter with the Government of Bangladesh regarding the plots of land that had been given to Bangladesh as per the pacts of Jawaharlal Nehru & Firoze Khan Noon Act, 11th September, 1958 and Indira Gandhi & Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman Act, 16th May, 1974 and tried to restore the plots of land, which were presently under possession of Bangladesh and demanded that the International Barbed Wire Border Fencing (IBWBF) to be constructed in such a way that the four disputed villages and the tea-garden must remain within Indian territory.

    Earlier, it is fact that the division and demarcation made by Sir Cyril Radcliff, the British Engineer, in 1947 had also some defects, which he had himself confessed. After that a section of Indian leaders and officials came to know about it. But, yet, both the Indian Assam State Government and Central Government didn’t pay any heed to this burning problem. However, these portions are still under the administration of Bangladesh due to the lack of foresight by the Indian political fathers.

    Meanwhile, during the year, 1987-1988, 2005 and especially, in the year-2008, when the Government of India began to make the IBWBF along the international boundary between IBPN-1372 to IBPN-1800 (that is, that particular disputed area), at that time, it frustrated the landlords of the four IBVs and the TE. The landowners thought that if the IBWBF was erected in this particular area or keeping their lands behind the IBWBF, then they would never recover their lands in future. So, they lodged a protest against that act of fencing and demanded interference of the Indian minister-in-charge and the heads of the department. Their requests and efforts came into motion, when NPCC made the IBWBF after keeping the portions of the four IBVs and the only TE areas left open. But, it wouldn’t take any positive steps to recover their lands, which were possessed by Bangladesh.

    “But after facing various harassments as well as the tremendous tortures by the peoples and the forces of earlier East Pakistan and now Bangladesh, the peoples of the disputed hamlet areas wanted to erect the IBWBF immediately on that particular area with inclusion of their four IBVs and the TE areas inside (the Indian side) the IBWBF; otherwise their village lands and the tea-garden (including reserve forest areas) might go to the grip of Bangladesh and they would lose their lands permanently,” said Bidyadhar Tripathi (presently age – 90-plus and resident of Akaidam hamlet, which is situated near Lathitilla and Dumabaroi villages), Sangram Goala (presently expired, resident of Pathini Tea Estate) and Nagendra Kumar Das (age also around 90-years-plus and resident of Karkhana Pathini village), the landlords of those IBVs on 28th December, 2008.

    “Though, the Lathitilla-Dumabaroi sector was disputed since 1959. Only a working international border was fixed in this particular disputed patch. At present, this particular portion is not properly demarcated even after the India Bangladesh International Border Deal – Protocol to the agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh concerning the demarcation of the land boundary between India and Bangladesh, 6th September, 2011, but a few white coloured small flags are placed along the working boundary to demarcate to depict the international boundary between the two states. Almost all the people of both sides tilled their paddy fields on the plain areas and right up to the white flags. Unfortunately, the small white flags, which are fixed on the ground or placed along the working boundary still separate the two nations. Not a single IBP has been erected or made in this particular area due to failure of the two nations to resolve the issue over the years.

    However, around 42 to 45 kilometres thick jungle area (from Pathini TE [near Dumabaroi and the Karkhana Pathini] to Madanpur TE) locally known as – Patharia Reserve Forest, which has elephant-grasses, teaks and non-Sal trees, etcetera divides the international boundary. A few portions of the deep reserve forests (which have fallen in the disputed areas) diminish the clear or proper visibility. As a result of this, it is really impossible for a soldier to mark any person coming from the forests (that is, from Bangladesh) side,” claimed Rajesh Mishra, a local journalist of that Lathitilla-Dumabaroi IBVs area.

    “It is fact that we have an IBOP at Lathitilla and an International Border Watch Post (IBWP) has been set up on the top of the hillock of the international border. It is also true that to demarcate the international boundary properly, a few ‘white-flags’ are placed near the IBVs area and called the ‘Working International Border’ (WIB).

    There is not a single IBP in these particular disputed patches (that is, between IBPN-1397 to IBPN-1400) since 1965 and these white flags are working as IBP, which can be seen easily from the BSFI IBWP and this is why, the white flags are placed on the ground, and are marked as the ‘Zero-line’ area between the two neighbouring countries.

    But, most important thing is that if any Bangladeshi miscreant removes the white flags from those areas at night, then it is virtually impossible in day light to determine, which cultivable ground lies in India and which in Bangladesh or to demarcate the territory of the two states accurately. Even, Bangladeshi abodes, school (in the Bangladesh side) are very close to the disputed international border area and it’s clearly visible from IBWP of BSFI and its adjoining areas. The opposite IBOP of Bangladesh of the disputed areas is Lathi and the IBVs of Bangladesh are Lathi, Kachha-godam, etcetera,” said one of the Company Commandants of BSFI Kumar Sailesh.

    Lathitilla-Dumabaroi IBVs Are Truly Indian Land

    Therefore, from the noted data, documents and information, it has been proved that the IBVs – Lathitilla-Dumabaroi are truly Indian lands. But the Government of India never officially declared or disclosed nor informed properly to the denizens of IBVs how much total land is going to be handed over to its neighbour and exactly which portions. However, declared amount of lands and the areas, which will be handed over to Bangladesh is either entirely shown wrong or ditched the real Indian citizens, who have been paying tax since or before 1914 for their own lands. The truth will automatically come out after finally handover or swap the lands with Bangladesh and the people of India will see from which how much lands India gains or leaves and who are the real victims.

    References :

    94. Directorate of Land Records & Survey, Government of Assam State, India & Directorate of Land Records & Survey, Government of West Bengal State, India.

    95. Newspaper Clips of India, Bangladesh & The Daily Star Newspaper, Bangladesh.

    96. Gazette Papers of Indian Assam State.

    97. Documents of Protocol to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Concerning the Demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh and Related Matters, 16th May, 1974.

    98. Documents of Protocol to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Concerning the Demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh and Related Matters, 06th September, 2011.

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

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

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

  • Shib Shankar Chatterjee
    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.