Residents in enclaves on Indo-Bangla border complain of lack of facilities

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Teen Bigha (West Bengal), Nov 21 : Thousands of families living in enclaves along the porous India-Bangladesh border lament that the steps taken by the governments on either side of the border are not sufficient to meet their development needs.

They also complained that their enclaves are victims of indifferent attitude from authorities on both sides.

Mostly located in the district of Cooch Behar of West Bengal, there are as many as 111 Bangladeshi enclaves, which fall in the Indian territory and 58 Indian enclaves falling in the Bangladesh territory.

Forty thousand people inhabit these enclaves. They said that the enclaves are bereft of medical and educational facilities and grumbled about being deprived of all kinds of government aid from both the countries.

They have been demanding access through the Teen Bigha Corridor connecting India with Bangladesh in Cooch Behar district round the clock.

"If you talk about problems, there are no health and education facilities here. The people of Dahagram-Angrapota are suffering a lot although the problem faced in commuting is less now, thanks to the newly constructed road. It opens at 6.30 a.m. and closes at 6.30 p.m. We would not have faced so many difficulties had the road been kept open round the clock," said Kurban Ali, resident, Dahagram- Angrapota.

The Border Security Force (BSF) personnel however, are of the view that the corridor should be opened only for a stipulated period to stop infiltration and cross border terrorism.

"The work of BSF as regarding the management of this border is very difficult. The weather conditions are very harsh and during winter time when the visibility is very poor, we have to look into the gaps or the likely areas where criminals can come and infiltrate into India," Genti Lal, Deputy Battalion Commander, BSF.

These 169 conclaves, commonly known as 'Chhitmahals', are concentrated along the Lalmonirhat, Cooch Behar border.

Though these Chhitmahals date back to ancient times, complications started arising for those living there with the partition of India in 1947 and the implementation of a passport, visa system between the two countries. India shares a 4000 kilometres (2500 miles) long border with Bangladesh, which before liberation was East Pakistan.

Five states- West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, share frontier with Bangladesh.

The Central government has sanctioned 3406 kilometers of fencing along the Indo-Bangladesh border.

ANI

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