The Telegraph
Thursday , August 19 , 2010
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Nadia kids attend Bangla madarsa
Bid to stop reliance on border fence timings

Krishnaganj (Nadia), Aug. 18: Eight students living in a Nadia village on the wrong side of the India-Bangladesh border fence are attending a madarsa in Bangladesh, trapped between diplomatic shadow lines and hard-pressed for time.

The guardians of the students, all residents of Hudadigambarpur in Nadia’s Krishnaganj, said it was easier for them to send their children to the madarsa 500 metres away than send them to a school one-and-a-half kilometres inside the Indian side of the fencing, which divides the village. The nearest schools on the Indian side of the fence are in Kadipur village.

“We have to depend on the opening and closing times of the fence gate. The two schools in Kadipur start at 11am. But the border gate remains closed between 9am and 11am. So the students have to cross the gate before 9am and wait for at least two hours every day for classes to begin,” said Kelu Mondal, whose two sons, Ashadul, 13, and Anedul, 11, study at the madarsa in Bangladesh’s Barabaldia-Beuchitla village.

“It is easier for us to send our children to the madarsa in Bangladesh. Ashadul studies in Class VI while Anedul is a Class V student. We don’t want them to face the daily strain of attending school at Kadipur,” Kelu, a farmer, said.

“My children walk for about 100 metres, cross the embankment across the Saraswati canal and walk a few hundred metres more to reach the madarsa,” he added.

Sumi Khatoon, 9, the daughter of farmer Kheder Sheikh, and Shahnawaz and Murshed, sons of Ziarun Mondal, do the same.

Kelu said the children sang the Bangladeshi national anthem at the madarsa every day.

Hudadigambarpur village has only 48 families. Seventeen children from the village, however, study at the schools in Kadipur.

Ripon Ali Mullik, a Class VIII student of Kadipur High School, said: “I go to Kadipur every day at 6.30am for private tuition. I rush back to my village so I can get ready on time and reach the border fence gate by 9am.”

Somesh Bhattacharya, the district magistrate of Nadia, said he knew about the eight children studying at the Bangladeshi madarsa. “I have sought a report from the block development officer. I will request the BSF to relax the opening and closing timings of the border fence gate. But how can a madarsa in Bangladesh take in Indian students?” he said.

A BSF official said: “We are not aware of the school timings. If villagers approach us, we will definitely open the gates for the students.”

The local CPM MLA and minister of state for refugee rehabilitation, Benoy Krishna Biswas, said the residents of Hudadigambarpur had been facing the problem ever since the border fence came up eight years ago.

“We will speak to the district administration and the BSF to find a solution,” he added.

The Telegraph recently carried a report on how the farmers of Nadia’s Fulbari and Gandina villages were either unofficially “leasing out” their land to Bangladeshi farmers or allowing their farms to be cultivated by them on a 50-50 crop-share agreement because the fence runs between their homes and farmland.

The 100 families own 270 acres on the wrong side of the fence.

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