CROSS BORDER WATCH: Bangla boys get push-back nod – Minors will be sent back to homeland in a week: DM – so why the big deal in not letting the BSF do their job, still on Jyoti Basu’s politics ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Raiganj, Aug. 8: The state juvenile justice board today said the three minor Bangladeshi boys who had strayed into Indian territory should be allowed to return to their homeland.
The “recommendation” comes nearly two weeks after The Telegraph reported on July 27 the board’s rejection of the BSF plea for the boys’ push-back. The board had then claimed that it had no jurisdiction to decide on the matter.
The deputy inspector-general of the BSF in Raiganj, Jashwant Singh, said he was relieved to know about the juvenile board’s recommendation. “As soon as police inform us, we will contact our counterparts in Bangladesh and ensure the safe passage for the boys,” Singh said. All three boys are from Thakurgaon district in Bangladesh and had been arrested by the BSF from Sonagaon border on July 23.
Pleas of the BSF and the North Dinajpur district administration to the juvenile justice board for an order to send the boys home had prompted it to conduct a hearing yesterday. At the end of the hearing, the board asked the district administration to “initiate proper action” so that the boys could be sent to their “motherland as soon as possible”.
One of the board members, Narayan Majumdar, said the boys were first produced before them on July 26. “On that day, the BSF had submitted a plea for their release. However, we were not clear about their intentions of entering Indian territory and police, too, had not submitted any investigation report. So we sent the boys to the government home here for safe custody,” he said.
At another hearing on August 5, a lawyer was assigned by the district legal aid cell to appear for the minors. “The boys pleaded guilty to infiltration but claimed that they had done so unintentionally, and their lawyer pleaded their case. On August 7, we held a special board meeting and decided that the boys should be sent back home,” Majumdar said.
When reminded that the board had said on July 26 that it did not have any jurisdiction to decide on push-back pleas, Majumdar said: “We have recommended a push-back and ordered that the boys be released from the jurisdiction of the board. Now it is up to the district administration.”
The district magistrate of North Dinajpur will sign the final release order. Sunil Dandapat, the district magistrate, said: “I have communicated the decision of the board to the police to begin the process of their hand over to the proper authorities in Bangladesh. I am hopeful they will be able to return home by this week.”
One of the three boys, staying at the government home, Surjodaya, said he had come to know about their release while having lunch today.
“We are happy that we shall be able to see our parents after such a long time,” he said. North Dinajpur superintendent of police Milon Das said the Raiganj police station had already been instructed to contact the BSF.
Riven by border barbed wire, farmers strike Bangla ‘deal’
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY ALAMGIR HOSSAIN
Fulbari (Nadia), Aug. 8: Riven by the border barbed wire, two Nadia villages have found a new “lease” of life.
Around 100 families living in Fulbari and Gandina are allowing Bangladeshi farmers to cultivate their land because the plots fall on the wrong side of the fence. When the border fencing was erected eight years ago, the homes and agricultural fields of these families fell on either side of the barbed wire.
The 100 families, who own about 270 acres of land on the wrong side of the fence, have either unofficially leased out their land to farmers in Bangladesh’s Kazipur village or are letting them cultivate their plots on a 50-50 crop-share “agreement”.
“After the fence came up, we had to return home after working in our fields, which fell on the other side of the wire, by 5 pm. The cultivated land had to be left unguarded and crops used to be frequently stolen by Bangladeshis at night,” said Sanu Sheikh, 50, of Gandina. He has struck a “deal” with Ajmat Sheikh of Kazipur under which the latter cultivates his land and hands over half of the produce to him.
The residents of Gandina and Fulbari said the BSF did not allow them to take their cattle and fertilisers to the other side without permission from the local gram panchayat and the BSF office at Shikarpur, 3km away.
Mahananda Roy, 60, of Fulbari, who owns three acres on the other side of the fence, has allowed his land to be cultivated by Sanatan Sheikh, Badal Sheikh and Kabul Sheikh of Kazipur.
“Whatever crops they cultivate, I get 50 per cent of it. I know it is illegal to give away land which falls in Indian territory for farming to Bangladeshis but this system is convenient for me. We have a verbal agreement and they never fail to give me my share of the crop,” Mahananda said.
The villagers said it was better to “compromise” with Bangladeshi farmers than to be “harassed” by the BSF. The force, however, said strict rules were in place to stop the smuggling of cattle and fertilisers.
Fifteen of the 100 families have, however, decided against taking the “trouble” of a 50-50 crop-share “agreement”. They have, instead, “leased out” their land to Bangladeshi farmers against a one-time payment.
Rekab Sheikh, 35, “leased” his half-acre plot two years ago to Sahabuddin Sheikh of Kazipur for Rs 40,000.
Rekab Sheikh said the resale value of the portion of his land that fell on the wrong side of the fence was “very low”.
“If an acre of land is sold for Rs 3 lakh on the Indian side of the fence, it will not fetch more than Rs 50,000 or Rs 60,000 if it is located on the other side. When I was looking for a buyer for my plot, I did not get offers of more than Rs 30,000 but when I contacted the Bangladeshi farmers, one of them offered me Rs 40,000,” he said.
BSF officers at Fulbari border outpost said it was difficult to distinguish between Indian and Bangladeshi farmers. “We will step up vigil,” an officer said.