Kamalasagar border haat in Tripura Credit: EastMojo image

Agartala: The Sepahijala district magistrate has issued fresh vendor identity (ID) cards to 49 residents of Debipur for the Kamalasagar border haat in west Tripura. The ID cards were handed over on Saturday, a day before the border haat was set up for the week on Sunday.

Additional district magistrate (ADM) Suresh Das told EastMojo that the vendors’ ID cards had expired over six months ago but the previous ADM, Manik Lal Das, hadn’t taken any steps to issue fresh ones. When asked why no notice was served to vendors, Das said: “It is true that no notice was served from our side because the validity of the ID cards had already expired over six months ago.”

Asim Sarkar, deputy pradhan of Debipur panchayat, is one of the 49 people who were given new vendor ID cards for the Kamalasagar border haat in Tripura on Saturday

Incidentally, one of the 49 people who were selected for the new ID cards included the name of deputy pradhan and BJP leader Asim Sarkar. Some other members of the local panchayat also feature in the list.

Earlier, when EastMojo reported about vendors from the Indian side being denied entry into the Kamalasagar border haat allegedly by workers belonging to BJP, Sarkar had denied the allegations. He had, instead, accused the traders of doing business with expired licences.

Abdul Chhamad (second from right) along with other vendors whose names were not included in the fresh list prepared by the Sepahijala district magistrate’s office on Saturday

Abdul Chhamad, 73, who had then alleged that the ruling BJP workers had threatened him along with other vendors not to come to the border haat, is clueless because his name now doesn’t figure in the list.

Another vendor, Manna Miah, alleged that since they got their ID cards issued during the erstwhile Left front government in the state, they are now being targeted by the BJP.

As per reports, vendors were first issued licences in 2015 under the then Left-front government in the state. The same vendors were given fresh licences for three years in a row. However, the ID cards, which were scheduled to be renewed every 11 months, were allegedly not renewed after the BJP-IPFT government came into power.

The border haat has 50 seats reserved for the Indian vendors, out of which one stall is booked for the government. The rest of the 49 stalls are distributed to the villagers residing in the border areas.

Santosh Debbarma, another member of the Debipur panchayat, whose name has figured in the list of new vendors for the Kamalasagar border haat in Tripura

The ‘border haat’ concept was introduced as a border trade market between Bangladesh and India. It is a market place organised by the two countries one day each week. It is not only a market for buying daily commodities but also a reunion spot for families living on both sides.

Currently, four border haats are operational along the India-Bangladesh border. While two of them are located in Meghalaya at Kalaichar and Balat, the other two are located in Tripura at Srinagar and Kamalasagar.

Trade at border haats is permitted to be carried out in either Indian rupees or Bangladeshi taka and on a barter basis, and data of such trade is maintained by the haat management committee of the respective border haat.

As per current rules, people living within a radius of 5 km along the border in both the countries can obtain licences to become a vendor.

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