Tripura villagers affected by border fencing to step up stir

May 12th, 2011 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, May 12 (IANS) A section of villagers in Tripura affected by the ongoing fencing work along the India-Bangladesh border have got support from the opposition Congress which is demanding that they be rehabilitated.

Congress legislator Subal Bhowmik, who has been spearheading the protest, charged the Left Front government in Tripura of victimizing bordering villagers while erecting the fencing along the India-Bangladesh border.

Bhowmik told reporters: “The Left Front government in Tripura has remained quiet despite the fencing-affected people protesting for the past 10 years for their re-settlement. The government has been victimizing the people as out of 89 gram panchayats controlled by the Congress, 55 fall along the bordering areas.”

The locals have formed an organisation called “Simanta Bhumi Suraksha Committee (border land protection committee)” with Bhowmik as its president.

“The affected bordering people organised 13 days hunger strike in February, road blockade on April 6, and a massive ‘jail bhoro’ (fill the jail) and civil disobedience Wednesday. A ‘march to Mahakaran’ (civil secretariat) would be organised on July 27 in support of the demand, but the state government has remained indifferent,” Bhowmik stated.

“Over 8,500 families comprising over 50,000 people have so far been affected by the ongoing construction of the barbed wire fencing along the border. The stir would intensify until the government accepts the 19-point demands, including resettlement of the affected families.”

The Indian government has been erecting the fence along the 856-km India-Bangladesh border in Tripura to check trans-border movement of militants, prevent infiltration and check border crimes.

Similarly, fencing is being erected all along the 4,095-km India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

“After the partition of India, thousands of families engaged in farming and agriculture have been living along both sides of the border for generations. Huge extent of farmland also falls outside the fencing,” Bhowmik said.

He said the families not only lost their ancestral land but are facing uncertainty over their farmland that fall outside the fencing.

Tripura PWD and Finance Minister Badal Choudhury told reporters: “As per international norms, the barbed wire fencing has to be built 150 yards inside India from the zero line of the border.”

He said: “For erecting the fence (at 150 yards from the border line) along the 841-km of the 856-km India-Bangladesh border with Tripura, over 8,730 Indian families’ homes, paddy fields, lands, farms and other assets had fallen outside the fence (making them) vulnerable.”

He said: “(Due) to stipulated distance for putting up the fence, over 19,359 acres of land, including farmland, have fallen outside the fencing in Tripura alone.”

“Following Tripura government’s persistent demand, New Delhi appraised Dhaka about the problems in erecting the fencing at 150 yards from the boundary and the Bangladesh government has allowed India to erect the fencing at the ‘zero line’ in certain stretches to save Indian properties and congested human habitations.”

“The 150-yards norms have been followed in erecting fence along India’s border with Pakistan,” Choudhury added.

The minister said that to rehabilitate the 8,730 families who were affected, the Tripura government had sent a Rs.93 crore project to the central government in 2004, but the latter was yet to sanction any funds for it.

The minister said after erection of the fencing, the trans-border movements of militants, infiltration and border crimes have been reduced to a large extent.

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