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I-cards for border residents roll out

Barasat, Feb. 10: The North 24-Parganas administration has begun distributing photo I-cards to border villagers.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had earlier promised the I-cards to identify the Indian population living close to the border. Years back, the BSF authorities had proposed their introduction in North and South 24-Parganas.

But in the wake of the recent intrusion of Bangladesis through large parts of North 24-Parganas, the administration has begun distributing the identity cards. The BSF is helping the district authorities in the task.

The BSF had imposed a dawn-to-dusk curfew in the area for security reasons making life difficult for the residents. The issue was raised in the Assembly during its winter session.

Trouble broke out in Gaighata and Bagda after the BSF fired on villagers and killed one of them while they were returning from the fields, suspecting them to be intruders.

After a meeting involving the BSF, the district administration, the Gaighata MLA and MPs from the border areas on January 31, it was decided that the distribution of the cards would be taken up on a war footing.

On February 3, Bhattacharjee promised while passing through Behrampore that the cards would soon be given out.

“Accordingly, we made arrangements to provide the cards to the residents of Gaighata, Bashirhat, Bagda, Boyera and Sankhchura. We are distributing them since Thursday,” said district magistrate Harikrishna Dwibedi.

The villagers’ photographs are being taken by local agencies engaged by the administration.

BSF’s deputy inspector-general, R.P. Singh, said: “Now we will distribute the cards to permanent Indian residents in 187 villages along the border in south Bengal. About 200,000 people will get the card.”

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