SILCHAR, Dec 30 - After living in no-man's land along the 36.8-km India-Bangladesh border in southern Assam's Cachar district for the past many years, people belonging to 174 families which were barricaded out during the course of border fencing which began in 2005 are set to be rehabilitated.
In a bid to expedite the State Government's decision to allot 89 bighas of land in Katigora block of the district for the realignment of these families, Cachar Deputy Commissioner S Vishwanathan along with Settlement Officer Cachar and Additional Deputy Commissioner Baranya Das and other officials visited the border area.
He was accompanied by DIG BSF Om Prakash Tripathi and Officiating Area Commandant of 131Bn of BSF Arun Verma.
During his visit, the Deputy Commissioner interacted with the natives of Natanpur area who shared their experiences of living a life of uncertainty. While interacting with Imrul, a student of Class V at Baleshwar High School of the area said, "Sir, we are poor and have to work so we are irregular in attending school."
Rumi Begam, a student of Class IX urged the Deputy Commissioner to allocate them inside the fence at the earliest since students like her are unable to go for tuitions in the evening hours since the gates are closed after dusk.
Echoing similar reactions, one Anil Das said, "We are happy to know about the rehabilitation process and we want this to begin immediately. Give us any plot of land but put us inside the fence."
On the other hand, Mamata Begam and Ilias Ali, residents of the area put forth a problem they have been facing regarding marriage of their girls. "Because of living outside the fence, we do not get suitable match for our daughters as families are reluctant to share the social bond."
However, asked if they are facing any disturbance from the neighbouring country, the locals said that there were instances of cattle theft in the past, but no such activity has been noticed in the recent times.
"People here are living in great difficulty. The BSF is cooperating in the best possible manner and we had talks with the Government about their rehabilitation. 89 bighas of land has been identified where these 174 families would be rehabilitated. Each family would be allocated 10 katha land for residential use. Once they shift inside the Indian fence, other basic facilities like drinking water, education will be given in course of time," Viswanathan said, adding that the process of distribution of land is likely to begin during the visit of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in January next year.
BSF DIG Om Prakash Tripathi said, "The 174 families are residing in 69 houses outside the fencing area divided between Natanpur (39) Mahadevpur(20) Pirnagar (6) and Tukargram (4) with this border area of the district from Jellalpore up to Tukurgram. There is strict vigil on the fence by our jawans and flood lights are erected with a dedicated feeder line coming up from the APDCL. In addition to this, efforts are pitched in for drinking water from PHE and gaps in infrastructure are being addressed so that the people become self sustained once they are brought inside. The BSF jawans are always alert regarding the problems faced by the people and offer helping hands towards them."
Meanwhile, in an interesting twist, a section of the inhabitants dwelling in demarcated land to be given to the families staying outside the fencing area have expressed great resentment claiming themselves to be original settlers of the land.
Mithun Orang, a local, cautioned the district administration saying "We are ready to die but will not leave an inch of our land." However, the Deputy Commissioner has asked his officials to investigate the claim made by the villagers.