Monday, March 2, 2009

India-Bangladesh border

The partition in 1947 resulted in a long stream of refugees. By the first year of partition 1.25 million people had crossed over to West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. The second major wave of migration took place after Mujibur Rehman’s assassination in 1975. It created a communal rift that forced many people to move out of Bangladesh and just cross over to West Bengal. 60 years after independence the number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh staying in India is 20 million. With the rise of fundamentalist forces and terror outfits in Bangladesh that simple crossing over often helped by political has turned into one of the biggest security threats in the subcontinent. Our journey along the India-Bangladesh stretch from Hili to Sunderban with people from both sides of the border only proved that real security can only be ensured by increasing the awareness of these people and not just construction of a fence . Then only the checkpoints and the increased battalions can help counter terror.

Borders I

Petrapole on the Jessore Road in Barasat in North 24 Parganans. It is one the 3 integrated check points in West Bengal. There are 3 ICPs in Bengal. One each in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. It’s also one of the busiest with 400 trucks crossing this point both ways every day. Overall India and Bangladesh do legal business worth $ 3.6 billion. The illegal trade is 3/4th that amount. On an average 1,200 people criss-cross the border daily. Petrapole remains the flagship ICP for people to people contact between India and Bangladesh and the largest land port between the 2 nations. (photograph taken around January 09)