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Row over Tripura border

Agartala, Feb. 10: A major storm of public protest is brewing over the proposed transfer of India’s land to Bangladesh in Belonia subdivision of South Tripura.

Altogether 110 acres of fertile agricultural land is set to be transferred to Bangladesh through the recently-finalised border pillaring which will lead to major deprivation of Indian farmers in border areas of Belonia subdivision. The farmers and residents of Belonia town have come out in protest as they feel the transfer will jeopardise the security of Belonia town.

Finance minister Badal Chowdhury, who is the CPM’s tallest leader from South Tripura and Gomati districts, has also expressed dissatisfaction over border demarcation.

“The matter has been discussed in the cabinet and we are going to draw the attention of the Centre to the unjust demarcation. The way the Joint Border Survey Commission has come out with the latest demarcation line is not acceptable,” Chowdhury said.

But despite the protests, a delegation from Bangladesh, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s chief adviser Gauhar Rizvi and comprising chairman of Parshuram sub-district in Bangladesh Kamal Chowdhury, subedar of Border Guard Bangladesh Nazmul Islam and officer in-charge of Parshuram police station Abdul Kashem visited the disputed 110 acres of land on Saturday.

Tension has mounted in Belonia. The subdivisional officer, Belonia, Nripendra Sharma, said the India-Bangladesh demarcated border in South Tripura’s Belonia subdivision in 1947 had undergone a major change in 1965 following the emergence of an islet in the middle of the river Muhuri flowing from Tripura into Noakhali district of Bangladesh.

“This had made 66 acres of land disputed though 44 acres were identified as belonging to India and 22 acres to Bangladesh. A shift in the course of the river Muhuri has also complicated matters. The middle of the islet in Muhuri was identified as the border between the two countries and this had been also recognised by the Indira-Mujib pact,” Sharma said.

He added there had been exchange of gunfire between the BSF and the erstwhile BDR, but the Manmohan-Hasina pact had changed matters. Following their understanding, the border was redemarcated in Belonia subdivision and 110 acres from Belonia were to be given to Bangladesh.

“This has happened because of expansion of the islet on the river Muhuri and shifting course of the river, but the decision had been taken at a higher level (the Centre) without any reference to local conditions in Belonia,” Sharma said.

He said pushing of the international border close to Belonia town will further jeopardise the security of the town and its dwellers because of fears of rise in crimes including dacoity and theft. “If the said land is handed over to Bangladesh the larger part of the river Muhuri flowing by Belonia town and part of the town itself will go to Bangladesh, creating serious problems,” Sharma said.


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