One house two nations

TANMOY CHAKRABORTY

Md. Nasiruddin (70), a resident of kalsimura village near the Indo-bangla international border, plans to spend his holidays in Bangladesh, but he does not require any visa or passport, because his plans can be implemented only if he goes to the backyard of his house.

The Indo-Bangla international zero line passes at the middle of his house slicing it into two parts. When one part of the house remains in India the other falls in Bangladesh.

His house is among the 86 houses in his village, which were sliced by the zero line, when the international boundary (IB) was drawn between India before the partition of India by Mr. Ratcliff.

“Our house is older than partition and we are living in our ancestral hose for generations after generations. When a large part of the house falls in India and a small portion lies in Bangladesh”, Nasiruddin told Tripura Chronicles.

His other family members are living in Bangladesh.

“We are four brothers we used to live in India but after the partition of India the other part of our house fell in East Pakistan and is now Bangladesh. My two brothers are now living in Bangladesh. Near the border pillar number 2063”, he said.

According to border agreement signed between BSF and its then counterpart BDR, there should be no settlements within 150 yards of the IB. But this no man's land is dotted with houses, with large agricultural fields and ponds surrounding the habitat. However, 540 meter is unfenced in the Kalsimura area in Nagar village.

One can easily cross the border by stretching one's leg. The distance between the two countries is less than a foot in most areas. A series of white pillars - some submerged in ponds or half buried in the ground - indicate that this is the border area. For the residents, there is nothing new about living in two countries.

Md.Nasiruddin also said that they had to face a lot of problems since the International Border has crossed between their houses.

“We need to carry an ID card along with us. Because if we roam here and there the Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB) stopped us and started checking us so than we need to show our ID cards. Though it’s also good for security purpose”, he said.

Abul Hossen (56) who is the nephew of Md. Nasiruddin said that the name of the village was Nagar Village earlier but after the partition the side which falls in Bangladesh in renamed as Hyderabad.

“The entire village was in India but after the partition it divided into India and Bangladesh. Indian side is known as Nagar and that side is Hyderabaad”, he said.

He pointed out a Mosque which is around 200 year old earlier which was in India now falls into Bangladesh, said that the Mosque name is ‘Hyderabad Masjid’ after the partition the name remains same.

“Now some people from India go there in the Masjid which is now in Bangladesh. I have a pond also which falls into Bangladesh but I can’t bring my fish in India. Some time I can but not that much”, Hossen said.

Hossen said his other family members are living in Bangladesh which is just 200 meters away from his home.

“Earlier we used to stay together but during the partition my grandfather his father and my father has decided to settle in both the countries because of our paddy fields, our houses which falls in both part of the country. But when they visit here they need to take visa and passport to cross the border even the same process is here for us also”, he said.

Md. Tamim a 20 year old boy who is living in the same house of Md. Nasiruddin said it’s very difficult to live like this.

“The border divided our house into to two Nation. We always need to carry an Id-card for the proof that we are Indian. My two uncle’s living in Bangladesh in same house however I can have my food in Bangladesh and can sleep in India its very fun for me but some time it’s not possible because of the security issues”, Tamim said.

The families of that area are maximum poor family and some are farmers, daily labour and government job holders very less.

Stories of harassment are common. To go to another village a few kilometres away, the local people have to take permission from the jawans of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB). The villagers have to submit their identity cards at the check-post during visit one village to another.

He also said that they have to take permission from both the jawans of two countries during any event in their houses and they have to submit an application with the list of the relatives.

The BSF claims that security in these villages has been tightened because this is the hub of illegal trade.

Sub-inspector of BSF Naveen Kumar said the villagers, mostly women and children, smuggle into Bangladesh goods such as cough syrups, rice, spices, cooking oil, saris and cycles. Trafficking of cows and trading of illegal currency are the two biggest problems that security forces face on this porous border.

“We do our job for security issues but they think we are harassing them. If we don't keep a check, we would be accused of colluding with them on illegal trade”, Kumar said.

 ‘China Galli’ in Nagar Village was known as the lane of illegal trades.

“Earlier a lot of infiltration than smuggling of goods and drugs by throwing that house to this house taken place in this through this lane because 540 Meter is unfenced and now everything is in control. We tightened up the security we also installed the CCTV in entire village near the pillars. We also restricted that lane but some people go there after submitted their ID-cards”, the BSF jawan said.