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Dhaka grabs 2 sq km of India's land

Dhaka grabs 2 sq km of India's land

Author: Syed Zarir Hussain
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 27, 2006

Assam Minister says Bangladeshis have moved border posts ---- In a sudden and daring move, Bangladeshis, backed by their country's Army, have uprooted pillars demarcating the Indo-Bangla border along Dhubri and Karimganj districts of Assam, and forcibly grabbed at least 500 acres (2.02 sq km) of Indian territory. The land grab has taken place under the very nose of the Border Security Force.

By the time Assam Government or its police could respond to the situation, swarms of Bangladeshis had taken possession of the land, ferociously pushing back Indians who dared to go beyond the surreptitiously shifted border posts.

The land grab came to light recently when tea pickers at Pallatal and Pramodnagar plantations in southern Assam's Karimganj district found a portion of the gardens being zealously guarded by Bangladeshis. When the workers tried to enter those areas of the gardens, they were shoved back.

The shocked workers informed the managers of the tea gardens and they, in turn, informed the local police. When policemen visited the two gardens, they found a sizeable area, which till the previous day was Indian territory, illegally occupied by Bangladeshis. The intruders were backed by Bangladesh Rifles soldiers.

Later, it was discovered that the Bangladeshis had uprooted the concrete border pillars, separating the two countries, which once stood a short distance from the two tea gardens.

Faced with hostile Bangladeshis and armed Bangladesh Rifles personnel, the policemen could do nothing to evict the intruders who had grabbed 299.04 acres of Pallatal Tea Estate and 11.73 acres of Pramodnagar Tea Estate in an overnight land-grabbing mission launched by Dhaka.

Meanwhile, another incident of border posts being shifted by intruders was reported from Mancachar revenue circle in western Assam's Dhubri district. There, too, the BSF had failed to prevent the intrusion. Police investigations revealed that Bangladeshis had usurped 189.06 acres in Mancachar.

These details have now been confirmed by Assam Government, which helplessly admitted on the floor of the State Assembly late Tuesday that "Bangladesh has occupied more than 2 sq km of Indian land by uprooting border pillars".

Speaking on the issue, State Revenue Minister Bhumidhar Barman told stunned legislators, "A total of about 499.83 acres of our territory has been encroached upon and occupied by Bangladesh after removing boundary pillars."

He confirmed that Bangladeshis have taken over 299.04 acres of Pallatal Tea Estate and 11.73 acres of Pramodnagar Tea Estate in Karimganj district. "In Dhubri district, 189.06 acres under Mancachar revenue circle has been encroached," Barman said, adding, "Even though the administrative power of these areas lies with the Assam Government, they are under the control of Bangladesh."

The Assam Government has alerted the Centre about the land grab by Bangladesh. "We have asked the Union Government to resolve the issue with Dhaka. The matter was also discussed at the Indo-Bangla Joint Border Commission meeting held recently," the Minister said. He was replying to a question by an Independent legislator.

Assam shares a 272-km long border with Bangladesh of which about 70 per cent has been fenced with barbed wire.

The remaining stretch of the border is merely separated by concrete pillars.

Illegal immigration by Bangladeshis is a major problem across the North-East, resulting in frequent clashes between the BSF and the Bangladesh Rifles. While the Assam Government has refused to provide official estimates of illegal immigration, there could be as many as one crore Bangladeshis living in this State.

Indigenous Assamese fear they will be reduced to a minority if unabated infiltration continues. This fear will be further heightened by Bangladeshis brazenly uprooting border posts, grabbing land and colonising Indian territory.

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