SHILLONG: Adamant on their stance against the Indo-Bangla border survey in West Jaintia Hills, the Coordination Committee on International Border (CCIB) on Tuesday staged a sit-in-demonstration in front of the Additional Secretariat to protest against the indifference of the government to the problems of border fencing along the Indo –Bangla border.
As many 100 people who included land owners and local people of the border areas and members of different social organizations gathered in Shillong on Tuesday to demand for the realignment of boundary pillars as per the Nehruvian agreement in 1958 even as they maintained that they are not against border fencing.
The CCIB alleged that the survey along the border was not done as per the guidelines of the Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958 and added that they will agree to the survey only when the fencing is realigned as per the Agreement.
Speaking to media persons, member of the CCIB Joe Marwein, who is also the president of the FKJGP said “we are not against border fencing, but if our land are being robbed off, what use is an empty house without a farm, because as we can see, majority of the people living in the border areas depend solely on agriculture.”
He said that the CCIB supports the farmers’ demand since lakhs of square kilometers of land belonging to Meghalaya are now under the possession of Bangladesh due to wrong demarcation. “So we will not allow the same mistake to be repeated twice,” Marwein said.
Placards were also displayed with slogans which read — “Fencing should be at Zero Line after realignment of Border Pillar,” “We are living peacefully at a time when you are not born. Go back DC Jowai. Transfer HIM”, “We are human being, we have the feeling to lose our own land. It should be under our authorize”, besides others.
“It’s not just a question of losing their land, but it’s more of livelihood,” Marwein said adding that without agriculture, border residents will be deprived of their livelihood and “we cannot let this happen.”
It may be reminded that earlier in July, the CCIB has asked the State BJP to fix an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the Indo-Bangla border fencing issue.
Recently, CCIB secretary K. Myrchiang said, “The CCIB welcomes the decision of the Central government to construct the fencing from the Zero Line.” He however, expressed regret that the border population lacked information on the exact location of the Zero Line, adding that the survey for the border fencing was conducted without consulting the local village heads.
The fencing of the 443-km Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya has made little progress owing to steep opposition from pressure groups and landowners.
Recently, a BSF official said that the fencing work has been stalled for 3-4 months due to land acquisition hurdles. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the State to complete work by this year.
Locals and NGOs want the fencing to be taken up from the zero line but the Centre wants to construct the fencing 150 yards inside the zero line as per convention.
Interestingly, days after a terrorists attack on Bangladesh, the Ministry of Home Affairs in the month of July held a meeting with senior officials of 5 bordering States on Indo-Bangladesh Border which includes Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram to review the situation in the light of heightened threat perception of infiltration along the porus border. During the course of the meeting, it was decided that in order to mitigate the problem of Indian villages located between fence and border and to enhance security along IBB, it was decided that fence will be shifted towards the ‘zero line’ to bring Indian villages within the fence.
While Border Area Development minister of Meghalaya Prestone Tynsong welcomed this decision he however, said that aid that the demands made by Coordination Committee on International Border (CCIB) to realign the whole stretch from Dawki to Muktapur will be a little difficult after the inking of the Land Swap Deal.
When asked whether realigning the whole stretch is possible after Land Swap Deal agreed upon between India and Bangladesh, KSU president Daniel Khyriem said that to invoke people to agree upon the arrangement made is comical as the Government of India should have consider the plight of the people living it the border areas of Meghalaya, before signing the deal.
“The failure of the district administration and the state government to convey the message across to the GOI when the survey was conducted prior the agreement shows that there is a big lapse on the part of the government and the same will affect the people to a large extend,” he added.