The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Daily bread breaks border
- Better wages bring hordes of Bangladeshis into Bengal everyday

Dec. 14: About a 1,000 Bangladeshis cross over into Murshidabad and Nadia everyday, work as daily wagers and return home.

A day's labour in Bangladesh fetches Taka 40. In India, they get Rs 50, around Taka 65. The foreigners, who work at Rs 10 less than the Indians, are welcome for the employers.

Alarmed over the trend, the Nadia and Murshidabad administrations have got in touch with the Border Security Force (BSF). Investigations by the administration have revealed that this crossover is besides the normal infiltration and peaks during the harvesting season.

Murshidabad district magistrate N. Manjunatha Prasad said he has asked the BSF to step up vigil. 'These (Bangladeshi) labourers visit our villages every day. This cannot go on,' he added.

Abdur Rakib, who frequents Pirojpur in Murshidabad's Raghunathgunj, 270 km from Calcutta, from Belpara in Chapai Nababgunj district, earlier part of Rajshahi, said: 'We neither mean to cause any harm nor intend to stay on. We come because the rate of labour in India is higher than in our country. Moreover, there are more jobs here.'

With about 500 others, Rakib, a farm labourer, crosses over this time of the year to harvest kalai (legume) crop.

Pairul Sheikh, a farmer from Pirojpur, said the cultivators in Indian gain from the arrangement. 'Here the rate of a labourer is Rs 60 a day. Those from Bangladesh happily do the same amount of work for Rs 50,' he said.

In Nadia, too, there is a 'demand' for the Bangladeshis. At Krishnagunj, 110 km from Calcutta, villages like Putikhali, Matiari, Hudodigambarpur have a regular flow of labourers from Meherpur. Farm hands from across the border also go to villages in Chapra and Tehatta.

R.C. Saxena, the BSF deputy inspector-general of the Krishnagar sector, said he has asked officials to step up vigil.

The Nadia administration has started a survey in seven blocks ' Ranaghat-II, Hanskhali, Krishnagunj, Chapra, Tehatta and two in Karimpur ' that border Bangladesh.

The BSF had last month informed the administration that over 50 concrete pillars, which demarcated the border, were missing.

Nadia has a 225 km border with Bangladesh, 40 per cent of which is riverine. District officials said most of the pillars were washed away during erosion of riverbanks. However, a dozen pillars also went missing from places where the countries share a land border.

'About a thousand Bangladeshis have encroached into Nadia as the demarcation line has become uncertain,' said Saxena. 'We have held several flag meetings with the Bangladesh Rifles and asked them to withdraw people from our territory before the situation spins out of control.'

Nadia district magistrate Rajesh Pandey said: 'In many cases, the pillars have been uprooted and stolen. We are now carrying out a survey on the missing pillars.'

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