75 PC Fencing In Tripura Over
India and Bangladesh shares 2,429-mile-long border with each other. The bordering states used to be the transit route for terror outfits aided and abetted by Pakistan. The terror groups are encouraged to create violence and carry out illegal activities in India.
Pakistani terrorists enter India through Bangladesh is an open secret. At the same time illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are changing the demography of the Northeast region. Recent violence in Assam’s Kokrajhar district adjoining Bangladesh border is still afresh in our minds, when in July 2012 violence broke out between the indigenous Bodos and the Muslim settlers.
On July 27, 2012, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi blamed the Centre for “delay in army deployment to the riot-hit areas.” The next day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the relief camps in Kokrajhar and called the violence a blot on the face of the country. Later Home Minister P Chidambaram also visited the state to review the security situation and the ongoing relief and rehabilitation measures.
Lok Sabha member from Bodoland, Sansuma Khunggur Bwiswmuthiary blamed illegal immigrants for the violence in the state. The violence and exodus of thousands of people from Northeast reportedly led to a series of regular protests in Assam at several places in August and September. The protesters’ main demand was the expeditious detection and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam. On 15 September, at a convention of non-political tribal groups, representing Bodo, Dimasa, Tiwa, Deuri, Karbi, Garo, Rabha, Sonowal Kachari and other tribal communities decided to form a coordination committee. The tribal leaders said that illegal immigration has threatened the existence and resources of all indigenous people of the state.
Under the prevailing conditions, even the life of the Border Security Force (BSF) is at stake on the border. The images of 16 BSF jawans’ dead bodies carried as animals in 2001 is still fresh in our minds, when they were killed brutally by Bangladesh Rifles jawans.
The partition of Bengal in 1947 left a poorly demarcated international border between India and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). Ownership of several villages on both sides of border was disputed and claimed by both countries. The dispute over the demarcation of the Indo-Bangla border was worsened due to the existence of over 190 enclaves.
One of the disputed areas was a small sliver of land near village Pyrdiwah which the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) had occupied since the 1971 liberation of Bangladesh. The village was one of the Indian exclaves near the border of Bangladesh with the Indian state of Meghalaya. Bangladesh claimed that the village was within its territory.
The April 2001 fighting was the worst since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. It took place around Padua village (known as Pyrdiwah in India), which adjoins the Indian state of Meghalaya and the Timbil area of Bangladesh bordering Sylhet district. In that area, 6.5-km of border has remained a disputed territory for the past 30 years.
Bangladesh later returned 16 dead Indian soldiers. Upon examining the bodies, India alleged that the BSF men were tortured before being shot dead. On the other hand, three Bangladeshi soldiers were also killed- two during combat and another died of wounds sustained during operations.
The north eastern states share 1880-km border with Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government’s recent decision to allow India to erect barbed wire fencing has been looked upon as positive gesture because it will help curb a lot of troubles near the international border.
As per the Indira-Mujib pact of 1972, no permanent structure can be built within the 150 yards of the border. In 1975, a guideline for the management of the 4000-km-long Indo-Bangla border was formulated by the two countries. Meanwhile, in Tripura the fencing on the Zero Line at Mohanpur in West Tripura district and Kailashahar in Unakoti district has almost been completed. The work at Kamalasagar in Sipahijala district and Belonia in South Tripura district is
About 75 per cent fencing of the 856-km-long Indo-Bangla border in Tripura has so far been completed and the remaining part would be completed by the end of this year, BSF sources said. “The fencing has come up at the Zero Line. Illegal trade and cross-border crimes have reduced. We are now safe. Earlier a male member of every household has to guard throughout the night to ensure safety and security of our locality,” Somnath Banerjee, a teacher, said talking to Uday India.
There have been some problems in the erection of fencing on certain stretches of the border due to existence of low-lying areas and human habitations within the 150 yards of the border, said a BSF official. The Indo-Bangla border is marked by a high degree of porosity and checking illegal cross-border activities has been a major challenge, the official added.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told the Assembly recently that erection of border fencing on the Zero Line was extremely necessary to protect many government installations, markets, roads and human habitations.
He pointed out that the Agartala airport, many tourist places, temples, markets and sub-divisional towns are situated within the 150 yards from the Zero Line of the border.
In view of the rise in cross-border illegal activities by women, the BSF is in need of women personnel along the Indo-Bangla border to tackle the trouble. Absence of women wing is the main problem here as men troopers are not able to frisk women crossing the border. It is impossible for BSF troopers, who are responsible for patrolling, frisking and interrogating the locals, to detain women for physical checks.
According to Commander Dinesh Sabarwal posted in Kailashahar, “Many villagers have their fields across the border-fencing and many villages are also beyond the fencing at the border. So, the villagers and females frequently cross the border to visit markets. We have problems in frisking women as they resort to blame us falsely to carry out cross-border illegal activities.”
Following on the heels of other paramilitary forces, the BSF recently deployed women constables at the border outposts in West Bengal along the Indo-Bangla border. According to BSF sources, looking to the growing number of infiltration and smuggling attempt at the international border by women, challenges for security forces have increased. Thus, the need for a trained women force is felt that can deal with such incidents.
“It’s not possible to check infiltration and smuggling only by fencing the borders and night patrolling. We need to put in place modern gadgets to monitor all the activity in the border areas”, said a BSF official posted in border on request of anonymity. Notably, Indo-Bangla border has problems like cross-border smuggling of drugs, cattle and infiltration.
Bidi, cough syrup and cattle are the primary items smuggled from India to Bangladesh. A BSF jawan says, “It is more difficult to handle enemy here. Here everyone is enemy. On border adjoining Pakistan in Rajasthan, we at least know that the bullet may come from the other side, here it is difficult to assess from where the enemy bullet will come, we are surrounded
The insecurity that reflects in the words of the BSF jawan is indeed a matter of grave concern and
the government must look into it more seriously.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Agartala
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