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Facts belie Govt claim on land deal

By R Dutta Choudhury

KARIMGANJ, Oct 23 � Though Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi claimed that Assam would gain 1200 acres of land in the Karimganj district following the signing of the land border protocol with Bangladesh, no one on the ground knows from where such a huge amount of land would come from as India never had disputes over 1200 acres of land with Bangladesh.

This correspondent recently visited the entire stretch of international border in Karimganj right from the border pillar number 1800/3-RI, which is the Assam-Tripura-Bangladesh tri-juncture and found that there is hardly any scope for India to gain 1200 acres of land in the area following the signing of the protocol as no Bangladesh land was in adverse possession of India and in fact, portions of Indian land is in the adverse possession of Bangladesh. Thus, it is Bangladesh, which stands to gain in the entire deal.

Interestingly, the surveyors of India and Bangladesh conducted a thorough survey of the entire stretch of the international border, which is no doubt a painstaking process considering the terrain in some parts of the border. But the surveyors failed to come into an understanding on most of the disputes in this area and later it was decided that the matter would be settled in the �highest level: by both the countries. However, what was decided at the �highest level� is not known to the people on the ground.

Another surprising fact is that the people on the ground and even the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel are not aware of the details of the deal signed between India and Bangladesh at the level of the Prime Minister even after one and half months of signing of the deal. The people of the area are now wondering why the Government of India decided to keep the deal under wraps and failure on the part of the Government to clarify its position added to the tension among the people. The Government should at least have taken the BSF into confidence about the deal as the forces are responsible for guarding the international border.

During the visit to the international border area, this correspondent found that there were problems in only two major patches. Around 2.35 kilometers of the international border in Latitila-Dumabari area was not demarcated and only a working boundary was fixed in the 1960s and a few white flags were put along the working boundary. The total area involved in dispute is around 94 acres and people of both sides cultivated the land on the plains of the area right up to the white flags. But as the Government preferred to keep the recent land deal under wraps, the people are apprehensive as they are not aware whether they would lose their land.

On the other hand, two patches of Indian land ahead of the Madanpur and Balia border outposts of the BSF are under the adverse possession of Bangladesh and the total area involved is around 310 acres. Bangladeshi nationals are cultivating in this area and no Indian citizen is using the land for years. It is believed that this particular portion of land would go to Bangladesh after the land deal comes into effect, but the fact remains that no Indian has been using this portion of land for years and the land is located ahead of the international boundary fencing. Moreover, there is no settlement of people in this portion of adverse possession land and the Bangladeshi people are only coming to the area for jhum cultivation and tea bushes of a garden owned by Bangladesh also crossed over to Indian territory.

The third major dispute is in the Govindapur area involving an area of 101 acres. This plot of land belongs to India but Bangladesh is now allowing Indian farmers to cultivate in around 60 acres of land. It is not known whether this issue has been dealt with by the Government of India.

After visiting the disputed areas, it is clear that India never had disputes involving 1200 acres of land with Bangladesh in Karimganj and no one is quite sure on what basis the Chief Minister has been claiming that Assam would gain 1200 acres of land.

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Facts belie Govt claim on land deal

KARIMGANJ, Oct 23 � Though Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi claimed that Assam would gain 1200 acres of land in the Karimganj district following the signing of the land border protocol with Bangladesh, no one on the ground knows from where such a huge amount of land would come from as India never had disputes over 1200 acres of land with Bangladesh.

This correspondent recently visited the entire stretch of international border in Karimganj right from the border pillar number 1800/3-RI, which is the Assam-Tripura-Bangladesh tri-juncture and found that there is hardly any scope for India to gain 1200 acres of land in the area following the signing of the protocol as no Bangladesh land was in adverse possession of India and in fact, portions of Indian land is in the adverse possession of Bangladesh. Thus, it is Bangladesh, which stands to gain in the entire deal.

Interestingly, the surveyors of India and Bangladesh conducted a thorough survey of the entire stretch of the international border, which is no doubt a painstaking process considering the terrain in some parts of the border. But the surveyors failed to come into an understanding on most of the disputes in this area and later it was decided that the matter would be settled in the �highest level: by both the countries. However, what was decided at the �highest level� is not known to the people on the ground.

Another surprising fact is that the people on the ground and even the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel are not aware of the details of the deal signed between India and Bangladesh at the level of the Prime Minister even after one and half months of signing of the deal. The people of the area are now wondering why the Government of India decided to keep the deal under wraps and failure on the part of the Government to clarify its position added to the tension among the people. The Government should at least have taken the BSF into confidence about the deal as the forces are responsible for guarding the international border.

During the visit to the international border area, this correspondent found that there were problems in only two major patches. Around 2.35 kilometers of the international border in Latitila-Dumabari area was not demarcated and only a working boundary was fixed in the 1960s and a few white flags were put along the working boundary. The total area involved in dispute is around 94 acres and people of both sides cultivated the land on the plains of the area right up to the white flags. But as the Government preferred to keep the recent land deal under wraps, the people are apprehensive as they are not aware whether they would lose their land.

On the other hand, two patches of Indian land ahead of the Madanpur and Balia border outposts of the BSF are under the adverse possession of Bangladesh and the total area involved is around 310 acres. Bangladeshi nationals are cultivating in this area and no Indian citizen is using the land for years. It is believed that this particular portion of land would go to Bangladesh after the land deal comes into effect, but the fact remains that no Indian has been using this portion of land for years and the land is located ahead of the international boundary fencing. Moreover, there is no settlement of people in this portion of adverse possession land and the Bangladeshi people are only coming to the area for jhum cultivation and tea bushes of a garden owned by Bangladesh also crossed over to Indian territory.

The third major dispute is in the Govindapur area involving an area of 101 acres. This plot of land belongs to India but Bangladesh is now allowing Indian farmers to cultivate in around 60 acres of land. It is not known whether this issue has been dealt with by the Government of India.

After visiting the disputed areas, it is clear that India never had disputes involving 1200 acres of land with Bangladesh in Karimganj and no one is quite sure on what basis the Chief Minister has been claiming that Assam would gain 1200 acres of land.