Agartala, Feb 12 (IANS) Villagers in Tripura’s border areas affected by the fencing work along the India-Bangladesh frontier continued their relay hunger strike for the 11th day Saturday. They also threatened to intensify their agitation if they were not rehabilitated.
“Despite the persistent and relentless agitation by the poor and affected people, the Left Front government has remained silent,” Congress legislator Subal Bhowmik told reporters.
Bhowmik, who is spearheading the protest, said : “Over 8,500 families have so far been affected by the ongoing construction of the barbed wire fencing along the border. The stir would gradually intensify from Monday until the government accepts the 19-point demands, including resettlement of the affected families.”
Accompanied by former Tripura assembly speaker Jitendra Sarkar, who had recently joined Congress, Bhowmik said that the state government has remained quiet despite the fencing-affected people protesting for the past 10 years.
The locals have formed an organisation called “Simanta Bhumi Suraksha Committee (border land protection committee) with Bhowmik as its president.
The Indian government has been erecting the fence along the 856-km India-Bangladesh border with Tripura to check trans-border movement of militants, prevent infiltration and check border crimes.
Similar fencing is being erected all along the 4,095-km India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
“After the partition of India, thousands of families engaged in farming and agriculture have been living along both sides of the border for generations. Huge extent of farmland also falls outside the fencing,” Bhowmik said.
He said the families not only lost their ancestral home land but are facing uncertainty over their farmlands that fall outside the fencing.
Blaming Tripura’s Left government for “ignoring the legitimate demands of the affected people”, the Congress leader said: “The central government is also willing to help the state to resolve the problems of these displaced people.”
He said huge tracts of farm land, markets, temples, mosques, public utilities and permanent constructions in Tripura were fenced out due to “wrong alignment of the barbed wire fencing”.
A Tripura government official said several thousand affected families have already been rehabilitated and the process is on to resettle the remaining.
“The state government had sent a Rs.95 crore project to the central government long back for economic rehabilitation of the fencing-affected people. New Delhi is yet to respond favourably to this scheme,” the official added.