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House TV survey raises doubts

- Team quizzes residents on Bangladesh

March 2: A Rajya Sabha TV team interviewing local people in Jalpaiguri about enclaves, adverse possession of border villages and sharing of Teesta waters with Bangladesh has raised suspicion in Trinamul about the purpose of the survey.

Led by Akhilesh Suman, an assistant editor of Rajya Sabha Television, the team visited Berubari in Jalpaiguri Sadar block on Friday and spoke to the residents there. Yesterday, the nine-member group visited Mekhliganj in Cooch Behar district, from where the Teesta river enters Bangladesh and interviewed people on water sharing as proposed by the UPA II government at the Centre.

Suman declined to comment on why the Rajya Sabha TV was doing such a survey.

A source pointed to the timing of the survey and said that it was “significant that before the Parliament polls, a team from RSTV is doing extensive reporting on issues which have been opposed by the state”.

The issue of adverse possession is regarding five villages in Jalpaiguri Sadar block, Chilahati, Borososhi, Kajoldighi, Paranigram and Naotori-Debottor, which do not figure on the official India map. The villages do not appear on Bangladesh map as well.

The state has demanded from the Centre that the villages should be shown on the India map.

The state government has opposed the Centre’s move to exchange enclaves, the landlocked territories of both India and Bangladesh.

There are 102 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 71 Bangladeshi enclaves in India.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had opposed the sharing of Teesta water with Bangladesh, despite repeated insistence from the central government.

“It seems that the Centre wants to broadcast the interviews to clarify before people that despite willingness on its part, the issues cannot be resolved because of opposition by the Bengal government. All these issues are well known to the Centre. But such a team has never turned up to talk to people,” said the source.

Local Trinamul leaders expressed similar apprehensions.

Nripatibhusan Roy, Trinamul president of Berubari, said: “The Congress is desperately trying to prove that because of our state government, the enclave issue cannot be resolved and water from the Teesta cannot be shared with Bangladesh. But the party will not succeed.”

He added: “Our chief minister has objected to exchange of enclaves unless the adverse possession issue is taken care of. Regarding Teesta water, there is clear assessment by river experts like Kalyan Rudra saying that if the river water is shared with Bangladesh, our farmers would face crisis in the dry seasons.”