SILCHAR: A group of Bangladeshis allegedly tried entering southern Assam’s Karimganj district after crossing the Kushiyara river on a boat on Friday evening. The alleged attempt, however, was foiled by ‘alert’ residents.The locals of Steamerghat Road in Karimganj town told reporters that they saw a large boat carrying 20-25 people from the Bangladesh side reached Steamerghat Road point in Karimganj after crossing the Kushiyara river around 8:30 pm on Friday. They immediately raised an alarm, following which the boat returned to the Bangladesh side, locals said.

The area (Steamerghat Road) where the alleged incident took place, falls under the Karimganj North assembly constituency and is only 500 metres from the Karimganj Sadar police station. On the opposite side of Steamerghat Road, after the Kushiyara river, lies Bangladesh’s Sylhet district (Zakiganj area).

The residents suspected that the Bangladeshi attempt to sneak into Indian territory was out of fear following the devastating floods in various areas of Sylhet district, especially Zakiganj. The people perhaps came to cut an embankment of the Kushiyara to divert the river’s waters towards the Karimganj side. Another section of local people suspected that the Bangladeshis planned to come to Karimganj via the riverine border side with the motive of committing crimes like theft and dacoity.

Former vice-principal of Rabindra Sadan Girls’ College, Sharmistha Khajanchi, who stays at the Steamerghat Road area, said a CRPF camp was there at Steamerghat Road in the past but was removed after which activities (of Bangladeshis trying to enter India illegally) increased. While there is a BSF camp, the area is not patrolled by security personnel because of which Bangladeshis try sneaking into the Indian territory through the riverine border, she claimed. She further stressed that the matter must be taken seriously by the authorities and necessary steps taken to step up vigil in the border areas.

Local ward commissioner Sukhendu Das told EastMojo on Saturday that he received the information (about some Bangladeshis reaching Steamerghat Road on a boat) on Friday evening, after which he informed the police. A team of cops led by the officer-in-charge of Karimganj Sadar police station rushed to the spot and started an investigation, Das said.

He demanded that the district administration should initiate appropriate measures to ensure patrolling by the BSF along the border areas to curb illegal activities.

As per news reports, the flood situation in Bangladesh’s Sylhet district has worsened in the past 24 hours, with floodwaters toppling a protection embankment and sweeping through many villages by the Kushiyara river bank in Sylhet. Around 25,000 people have been affected due to the onrush of water. Zakiganj, where at least 31 relief camps had been opened till Friday, is expected to receive a rush of people needing shelter as more villages downstream are likely to be submerged, government officials in Bangladesh told the media.

Karimganj, one of the three districts in Barak Valley, shares a 92km border with Bangladesh.

Local MLA (Karimganj North MLA) Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha did not respond to phone calls.

A senior official in Karimganj police, who did not want to be named, told EastMojo on Saturday that police, after receiving the news of the alleged attempt by Bangladeshis, had visited the spot and conducted an inquiry, but nothing was found. The initial probe into the matter revealed nothing to substantiate the residents’ claims, he said.

A source in the BSF said vigil had been tightened along the border area after the news of the Bangladeshis trying to sneak into Indian territory began doing the rounds.

The Karimganj superintendent of police was not available for comments

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