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Assam sector of India-Bangladesh border will be sealed: Patil

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CHECKING BEFORE TILLING: Border Security Force personnel checking a farmer who is going to plough his land lying in the no man's area on the border with Bangladesh in Sonaghat, Dhubri district of Assam, on Tuesday. PHOTO: RITU RAJ KONWAR
CHECKING BEFORE TILLING: Border Security Force personnel checking a farmer who is going to plough his land lying in the no man's area on the border with Bangladesh in Sonaghat, Dhubri district of Assam, on Tuesday. PHOTO: RITU RAJ KONWAR

Sushanta Talukdar

Home Minister, Assam Chief Minister visit border at Maslabari in Dhubri sector

Mr. Patil's visit a great achievement: AASUIndian cellular network not available in the area

Guwahati: The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) on Tuesday said the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had assured it that a vast portion of the Assam sector of the India-Bangladesh border would be sealed by December 2006.

Student leaders who accompanied Mr. Patil and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for an inspection of the border told reporters that they showed Mr. Patil an open 20-km stretch at Maslabari in the Dhubri sector.

Describing Mr. Patil's visit as a great achievement, AASU president Shankar Prasad Rai, general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi and adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharyya, claimed they could convince Mr. Patil why they had been agitating for sealing the border.

"Through our continued agitation we have been impressing upon the Centre and the State Government that the Assam-Bangladesh border is porous and illegal migration from Bangladesh has been taking place. On Monday, the Union Home Minister and the Assam Chief Minister could see for themselves that a vast area of the border is still open and even the old barbed wire fence in many areas like Sonahat needed to be replaced," said Mr. Bhattacharyya.

He said the AASU had asked the Centre that if the India-Pakistan border could be sealed in just two years why the India-Bangladesh border could not be sealed even 20 years after signing the Assam Accord.

The AASU leaders said they would monitor the progress of sealing the border within a stipulated time frame. They said the Union Home Minister had also assured them of undertaking another joint visit to the Karimganj sector.

Mr. Bhattacharyya said the Director-General of the Border Security Force had shown his mobile phone to Mr. Patil, pointing to the non-availability network in the area.

Visits Tin Bigha Corridor

PTI reports from Siliguri: Mr. Patil said that India accorded importance to better relations with Bangladesh, and the Berubari issue could be solved on the basis of dialogue.

Berubari in north Bengal is a disputed area lying between Bangladesh and India. There has been a long-standing demand to settle the issue on the basis of the Indira Gandhi-Mujibur Rehman treaty.

Mr. Patil spoke to MP Hiten Barman and other local leaders and also received memoranda on the issue. The Home Minister, who is on a three-day visit to north Bengal, earlier visited the Tin Bigha Corridor in Coochbehar district. He crossed over to the Panbari checkpost in Patgram in Bangladesh where he interacted with senior officials of the Bangaldesh Rifles (BDR). He was also given a guard of honour by the BDR personnel.

Mr. Patil signed the visitor's book at the specially constructed camp at the checkpost. He took tea with the officials there and also received gifts.

He also visited the border outpost at Bheem and discussed local issues with BSF officials.

He told newspersons that the Centre was keen on socio-economic programmes for the uplift of the people living in the border areas.

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