Trucks stuck at Mahadipur on Friday. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, Dec. 13: Four trucks carrying food items to Bangladesh through the border in Malda’s Mahadipur were sent back by the Border Guards Bangladesh as violence broke out in that country following the hanging of Abdul Quader Mollah.
Since the four trucks came back to the Indian side, no vehicle has crossed over to the neighbouring country.
Every day, 250-300 trucks go to Bangladesh from India — they enter Rajshahi district — carrying vegetables, pulses and electronic goods, among other things.
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah was hanged yesterday after being convicted of war crimes in 1971.
Today, over 1,000 trucks laden with export items were stranded at Mahadipur. Some of the vehicles have been waiting since December 1 to cross over as the situation in Bangladesh worsened.
Samir Ghosh, a representative of exporters based in Malda, said: “While the trade has been halted, trucks from different states are reaching Mahadipur everyday and many of them carry perishable items. We have sought the Centre’s intervention.”
Sunil Biswas, the inspector of customs posted at the border said, the Indian government was losing Rs 10 crore in revenue every day because of the impasse at Mahadipur. “Four trucks laden with onions had entered Bangladesh but were sent back by BGB. We have information that the protesters are attacking Indian trucks,” Biswas said.
Indians who had been to Bangladesh are returning hastily.
Bangladeshis who came to India, many of them for medical treatment, are not ready to take the risk of going back now and have opted to wait it out till the violence subsides.
“The situation is tense across Rajshahi district like other areas of the country. Trees have been uprooted and laid across roads to disrupt traffic. Somehow, we got in to a motorised rickshaw van and reached the border,” said Mohammand Haizul Islam, as he crossed over to Mahadipur with his wife Kurshena Biwi.
Islam, a resident of Gomostipur in Rajshahi, is heading to Vellore in Tamil Nadu for the wife’s treatment.
Abuzar Mondal, a resident of Jadupur in Malda, returned home today from Bangladesh. “We had gone to a relative’s house at Bholahat (in Rajshahi) on November 30 with a visa for a month. But we returned because of the deteriorating law and order,” he said.
Mondal said he had walked for 15km from Bholahat to reach Mahadipur. “No transport is available and there are protesters on the main roads. We took longer routes through plantations and agricultural land. We started from Bholarhat at 4am today and reached Mahadipur around noon,” said Sarfaraj Sheikh, who was with Mondal.
The BSF has stepped up vigil at the border to ensure that tension doesn’t spill over to India. “The movement of people has come down at the border. We are vigilant and have intensified patrolling on the border,” said Pranoy Kumar, commandant of the 125 battalion of BSF at Mahadipur, 18km from Malda.
He said altogether 150-200 crossed the border from either side everyday, but the number was much less today.
“Only six Indians crossed over to Bangladesh today. On the other hand, 12 Bangladeshis entered India today. It seems that only those who have emergencies are entering Bangladesh,” said Kumar.