Fencing-affected border residents of Mizoram go on strike

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

AIZAWL/AGARTALA - People affected by the fencing on the India-Bangladesh frontier Tuesday called an indefinite shutdown in the border areas of Mizoram while their counterparts in Tripura threatened to launch a similar stir to demand their immediate rehabilitation.

“The strike was inevitable as both central and state governments have turned a deaf ear to the repeated pleas of the affected families for their due compensation and rehabilitation,” a statement released in Aizawl by the Indo-Bangla Border Fencing Affected Families Resettlement Demand Committee.

A senior Mizoram home ministry official told reporters that the committee has called an indefinite strike in Mizoram’s three southern districts of Lawngtla, Lungle and Saiha.

According to the official, the shutdown severely affected normal life in the three border districts. Most shops and businesses establishments, government and semi-government offices and educational institutions remained closed, while traffic was thin.

The central home ministry is erecting a barbed wire fence along its 4,095-km long border with Bangladesh running through five states - West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram - to curb infiltration, smuggling, trans-border movement of militants and other anti-national activities.

Around 2,900 km of fencing has so far been completed and work on the remaining portion is on.

Many government institutions, religious places, irrigation projects, government schools and many markets along the border with Tripura and Mizoram have fallen within the stipulated 150-metre belt from the zero line of the border.

An estimated 8,730 families in Tripura and over 1,500 families in Mizoram, whose homes and farmlands have fallen outside the barbed wire fence being erected along the border with Bangladesh, have been demanding the government rehabilitate them.

“We would soon launch a relay hunger strike if the government does not take any steps to rehabilitate the fencing-affected bordering villagers,” said Samar Das, a leader of the affected people in Tripura.

Tripura’s Finance and Revenue minister Badal Chowdhury told IANS that the government could not rehabilitate those affected families due to scarcity of funds.”

“The Tripura government had sent a Rs.93-crore proposal to the centre long back to rehabilitate the affected families, but the union government is yet to sanction any funds for this purpose,” he said.

“While the central government has sanctioned homes for a few hundred families under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), the state government has spent Rs.10 crore to rehabilitate and construct homes of 4,000 affected families,” the minister added.

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