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Residents of Indo-Bangladesh border under fear of alienation

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From Bhupen Goswami

GUWAHATI : Residents of Lingkhong village near Zero Line on Indo-Bangladesh border are living with fear of being cut off from other parts of the country. Here, up to 150 yards within India’s border, fencing is about to be completed. The elderly, who were afraid of an identity crisis, shared their pain on Sunday. The foundation stone of a single fence has been laid near Lingkhong village in east Khasi hill district but the work has been stopped due to protests by residents.

 However, the authorities have not yet agreed that the fencing will not be erected or will be installed on zero line. It is not right that our village will be out of India’s territory after the fencing is erected, said Barning Khongsdeer, an elderly woman from the village. We are not feeling safe. We have been living here since time immemorial. The Government should do something for our safety and efficiency. Barning’s house is barely a few feet from the zero line and the border pillar separating them and those living in Bangladesh. However, a Border Security Force (BSF) camp is located in Lingkhong. It may be recalled that about 80 per cent of the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya has been fenced. Part is left where fencing could not be erected either due to opposition from residents, due to opposition from bangladesh border guards or due to geographical location.

 Fencing is necessary for security but on zero line Barning said anti-national elements take advantage of this easy limit to go. He said that in terms of security, everyone wants the fence to be installed at the earliest, but on the zero-line. He said that temporarily, the village has erected bamboo and small twig fences to separate itself from Bangladesh since last year in the wake of the epidemic. A senior BSF Meghalaya Frontier official said that as per the agreement, fencing is done at least 150 yards from zero line but this does not happen every time. Bangladesh’s border guards in some cases agree to erect fencing near the zero line itself.

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