Border cloud on revelry - BDR bar on puja pandals

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  • Published 14.09.04

Balurghat, Sept. 14: Days before talks between the home secretaries of India and Bangladesh on security, a shadow has been cast on puja festivities near the border with the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) objecting to pandals being built within 150 m of the frontier at Hili.

Around 75 per cent of Hili town was given away to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) after Partition. The rest remained in India.

The standard 150-m no-man?s land rule has never been applied at this outpost with the consent of both countries. Buildings and markets exist on both sides of Zero Line, with the Hili railway station located a stone?s throw away in Bangladeshi territory.

The BDR?s objection to pandals in what is, at least in theory, the buffer zone reportedly follows the Border Security Force (BSF)?s protest against the construction of an embankment on the banks of the Atreyee at Samjia by the Bangladeshi force, sources said.

The 11th Battalion of the BSF had sent a report to the Union home ministry last month on how the BDR had been inching into Indian territory at Samjia, 32 km from here in Kumarganj police station area, till the BSF challenged it on July 28.

Around 12 pujas are organised on the Indian side of the town every year, including eight within 150 metres of the border. But objections were never raised over this earlier.

Hili Biplabi Sangha is one of the affected puja organisers. The BDR conveyed its displeasure to the club through the BSF on Saturday.

?Ours is a big-budget puja. People from remote areas and other districts like Malda and North Dinajpur visit our pandal,? said Ganesh Saha, secretary of the club.

Deputy inspector-general of police of Malda range Nanda Kumar Biswas said: ?I have asked the district superintendent of police for a report.?

Commanding officer of the BSF at Hili Ram Narayan Ram said the BDR wanted ?to take revenge?.

District magistrate Romit Muthsuddi said: ?The matter has been conveyed to the home department.?