Smuggling of essentials a way of life along Bengal border

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Rashna, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. Rashna

    Rashna Senior Member Senior Member

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    Smuggling of essentials a way of life along Bengal border

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    HAKIMPUR, Angrail: Delivering a lecture at a BSF function on May 22, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval had asked the force to rise above being a gun-firing outfit and collect intelligence by developing contacts with border people and engaging in their welfare. But the force has hardly any options on the border where the only welfare that people are looking for is free flow of smuggled goods.

    In south Bengal's 24 Parganas district, injustice of history on a people divided by partition is vivid and the futile attempt of borders cleaving a composite culture stark. The people risk their lives every day to smuggle goods as simple as salt, sugar, cumin seeds and powdered milk. These everyday items are scarce, and thus expensive, in Bangladesh but easily available in India.

    And the only thing on much of the south Bengal border that comes between ordinary Bangladeshis and their essentials is no more than a river or a narrow lane and the odd BSF men. Smuggling is livelihood for the border people and BSF the enemy.


    "It's not possible to build friendly relations with people on either side of the border. They are extremely hostile to BSF. They see us as an impediment in their everyday life," says BSF Commandant Rajesh who has been struggling to choke smuggling on a 12-km stretch of the border in Hakimpur, North 24 Parganas.

    This stretch is basically river Sonai that divides Hakimpur in India and Kakdanga in Bangladesh. Rajesh has deployed 300 men to guard this stretch and is still unsuccessful. "The last time we tried to stop a smuggling consignment from crossing the river, people gathered on both sides of the border-Indian and Bangladeshis-and began throwing stones at us," says Rajesh.

    He also has almost 40 cases, largely of molestation and rape, against his men in the local police station lodged by villagers. Rajesh claims most of them to be false and lodged to deter BSF from discharging its duty.

    DIG (intelligence) SP Tiwari informs that his men in south Bengal also have 153 cases of human rights violations against them, claiming most of them to be false. "Socio-economic condition of the border people and economy of the place is such that smuggling has become a way of life," says Tiwari
    .

    The task gets more difficult due to the peculiarity of the border where in districts such as Malda it divides a house by half while in North 24 Parganas narrow lanes criss-crossing a village, that has existed as a composite unit for over a century, demarcate the two countries.

    "It is difficult to regulate exchange of goods in such villages. We try to control how much sugar or other essentials one is carrying so that large-scale smuggling does not take place," said a BSF officer at Zero point border outpost in North 24 Parganas.
     
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  3. Rashna

    Rashna Senior Member Senior Member

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    Does the revival of the border haats have the capacity to stop blatant smuggling... Although the haats are on the meghalaya bangladesh border similar market places could be encouraged in Bengal to avoid illegal activities.

    India, Bangladesh revive border ‘haat'
    The trading post will help people from both sides sell their locally produced goods
    India and Bangladesh opened their first border ‘haat,' or a common marketplace, here on Saturday, reviving the traditional border trade after nearly 40 years.

    The ‘haat' is 60 km from Tura, the headquarters of Meghalaya's West Garo Hills district, while Kurigram district of Bangladesh is located just across the river Jinjiram, which flows along the zero line of the border beyond the barbed wire fence on the Indian side.

    Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and his Bangladeshi counterpart Muhammad Faruk Khan inaugurated the ‘haat' in the presence of Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul M. Sangma, elected representatives of the two countries and officers of India's Border Security Force and the Border Guards of Bangladesh.

    The two Ministers said their governments were committed to strengthening economic ties and opening more such facilities, based on the experience of this revived ‘haat.' The Bangladeshi delegation was accorded a warm welcome when it crossed a bridge over the river and arrived at the ‘haat.'

    Market sheds have been constructed to facilitate trade by 25 vendors from each side, who have been identified and trained by both countries to sell their produce. Three hundred people from each side will also be allowed to visit the ‘haat' with passes. The market will work every Wednesday, from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. in the summer and 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. in the winter. Both Indian and Bangladeshi currencies will be accepted by the traders, who will exchange them in banks working in the two border districts. The ‘haats' in these areas were shut down during the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971.

    Both Mr. Sharma and Mr. Khan termed the occasion historic and hoped the facility would not only help the people living on both sides of the border to improve their lot through bilateral trade but also strengthen economic and cultural ties. Mr. Sharma said he was confident that the facility would make the border villages more prosperous by way of improved market access for their goods. It was estimated that bilateral trade worth $20 million would take place every year in the ‘haats.'

    Mr. Khan said the Chittagong and other ports in Bangladesh could be used by India, Bhutan and Myanmar. Mr. Sharma thanked him for agreeing to allow India to use the Chittagong port, just seven hours from the Dawki land custom station in Meghalaya.

    Mr. Sangma recalled his childhood memories of flourishing trade across the border of local produce such as jackfruit, mango and spices by the people living in the hills and on the plains. The shutting-down of ‘haats' had a great impact on farming as well as the livelihood of the people in the border areas.

    “We are very happy to have this trade facility here. For me, this ‘haat' has a special significance, as I was always looking forward to strengthening the people-to-people ties. I still remember with gratitude the food and accommodation we were given for one full month at the royal palace of Koch King of India,” said Mohammad Ali Sarkar, a Bangladesh liberation war veteran.

    He came down with melamine products worth Rs. 3000 to be traded on the inaugural day. China's proxy presence in the ‘haat' was evident from the fact that the large carton in which Mr. Sarkar had brought the product carried the ‘Made in China' mark.

    Mr. Sharma unfurled the Indian flag, while Mr. Khan unfurled the Bangladesh flag, amid singing of the national anthems. Cultural presentation by Indian dance troupes of the Garo, Koch and Hajong tribes and by troupes from Bangladesh added to the bonhomie.

    In his speech, Shellac and Forest Products Export Promotion Council chairman Sudhir A Merchant hoped that the revival of ‘haats' would greatly reduce the informal trade and help ensure the food security of people in the border areas, besides strengthening the economic cooperation.

    Dhaka and New Delhi signed an agreement in October last year to set up two border ‘haats.' The two countries have also identified 13 items — locally grown agricultural and manufactured finished products — for being traded at these facilities.

    An official release issued in Dhaka said that in addition to the ‘haats,' both countries were working on several projects to improve trade infrastructure and connectivity.
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/india-bangladesh-revive-border-haat/article2288272.ece
     
  4. jackprince

    jackprince Turning into a frog Senior Member

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    Why oh why? Haven't we learnt of the treacherous nature of Bangladeshis by now? Why make it easy for them to infiltrate into india?

    I know many people will cry humanity! But, just go in the villages in South 24 Parganas and North 24 parganas - which have become cesspit because of illegals that have come and occupied. Who hates Indians and Hindus like hell and have become factory for anti-India factories. May be those aren't so big or not grabbing the headlines now - but they would have already had the media had guts to show them.

    It must also be kept in mind, once the BDs cross into this side of the border in WB, except the locals none can identify him as a illegal - least of all BSF people- as their physical features and language and dialect and attire are same or almost same, unlike in case of Meghalaya.
     

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