GOLAKGANJ, Dec 21 – It is 5 pm. Fifty-year-old Amaresh Chandra Roy from Bhogdanga village is in a tearing hurry to reach the local market a few kilometres away. If he returns after 6 pm, he won’t be allowed to enter his village because BSF personnel will close the gate on the border fence.
Roy and residents of other villages located along the Bangladesh border in Assam’s Dhubri district often find themselves in a peculiar situation. They are Indians, live in India and yet become “outsiders” after 6.00 pm daily. The border fence has been erected in such a manner that Bhogdanga and Faskarkuti villages lie on the other side between the fence and the international boundary.
“Sometimes if a villager falls ill and requires medical attention we can’t do anything since the gates are closed. We can take him to hospital only after the gates are opened the next day at 5.00 am,” Roy told The Assam Tribune. According to a BSF jawan the gates are opened even during the night in the event of any emergency. Roy agrees. “But only if the jawans on patrol duty along the fence can be informed and they in turn can seek necessary permission from their superiors to open the gates,” Yet, we prefer to wait till daylight”.
Roy and others like him have to live in constant fear of marauders from across the international border since there is no fencing in Bangladesh. “Fortunately, nothing serious has happened so far. But who can tell what will happen and when”, Roy said. It may be too late by the time BSF jawans react.
Putul Chandra Roy Prodhani, advisor to Dhubri district AASU unit and chief organising secretary of AASU, admits people living on the other side of the fence face serious problems. He said 95 per cent of the voters under Bhogdanga, Faskarkuti village live on the other side of the fence. “The BSF cannot help because they are entrusted with the security of the border.” The fence was created after signing of the Assam Accord to prevent illegal infiltration. But in Dhubri sector a large portion of fencing is still to be completed.
Fencing may be a necessity to check infiltration, but for Roy the two rows of barbed wires or iron posts are a barrier. He wants to be resettled somewhere else where he won’t feel like for cattle being herded into pens at the end of the day.