Agartala: As India wages war against coronavirus and the entire government machinery has been put into service to protect the citizens of the country, over 3,000 Indian villagers, including senior citizens, children and women, far away along the international border, are surviving with the blessings of Bangladesh government.
With no cash left and rice stock for only two to three days available, residents of Kali Krishna Nagar village are fighting a different battle altogether while staying on the other side of the fence with very limited resources.
The international border here has been sealed and the gates have also been closed following the announcement of the nationwide lockdown in the entire country leaving these 3,000 Indian villagers, who are staying along the zero lines in Sonamura sub-division under Sepahijala district of Tripura, in deep trouble.
Speaking with EastMojo, Selim Khan, a resident of Nabadeep Chandra Nagar village who is one among the family members living behind the fence, said that since March 25 all the gates of have been closed following the call of nationwide lockdown.
“We are not allowed to move to the Indian side these days as BSF has closed all the gates following the lockdown order,” Khan said.
Like Khan, several other people have been living here for the past 15 years between the zero line and the barbed wire fencing that came up following the agreement signed between BSF and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and the Indira-Mujib pact signed in 1971.
With the fear of starvation and death, these Indian villagers, who are living on the other side of the fence, are often forced to visit the markets in Bangladesh and sell their vegetables for their survival. For essential commodities, especially medicines, etc, these Indian citizens are completely rely on the Bangladesh markets these days.
Sources in Sonamura sub-division informed EastMojo that this section of people is not allowed to visit the Indian side these days due to the ongoing lockdown.
“However, there are no restrictions for these people to visit the Bangladesh side of the border to buy essential commodities, medicines, etc, for their survival,” sources in Sonamura sub-division told EastMojo.
Tripura shares about 856-km international border with neighbouring Bangladesh. When contacted, Public Relations Officer of the BSF, CL Belwa, said that following the lockdown, all the border gates have been closed.
“Although the gates are closed, the BSF outposts in the respective areas have distributed ration among the families for their survival during this lockdown period,” Belwa said.
The families living behind the fence are mostly farmers and daily wage labourers. They were asked to shift to the other side but the local administration here have failed to arrange land for them, a local leader Joydeb Sarkar told EastMojo.
Another villager, A Begum, said that they have agricultural land on the Indian side of the fence, but the BSF has restricted their entry these days.
“We have very limited crops and rice left to sustain our lives. We cannot even think of getting sick at this moment as medical facility would not be made available for us here,” Begum regretted.