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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Phansidewa: The open gateway into India for Bangladeshi Muslims

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With all the buzz around the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and its implementation in India, a familiar menace has become the talk of the town yet again in the country; which is, illegal immigration into India. And it is a well-known fact that those who enter India illegally are the Muslims from Pakistan, Rohingya Muslims, and mostly, Bangladeshi Muslims.

Hundreds of Bangladeshi Muslims enter India illegally every year, and it is crucial to note that GoaChronicle has, earlier, extensively reported how Bangladeshi Muslims have created a whole settlement in the posh areas of Navi Mumbai and Sanpada, and have been creating menace for years now. From demographic threats, potential terror dangers, snatching away economic opportunities, to hating on Hindu ‘Kafirs’, such illegal Muslim migrants in India are nothing but a jarring eyesore, who should be kicked outside the country as soon as possible.

But rather than detaining these foreigners and sending them back to where they come from, and ensuring they never return, the exact opposite has been happening in the state of West Bengal, sharing its border with Bangladesh.

In the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, lies a tiny place called Phansidewa. The name ‘Phansidewa’ means ‘to hang till death’, and the name comes from a historic tree here, which was used by the British to hang criminals. This tree lies where there is the Indo-Bangladesh border; and more than criminals dying at the hands of British, this tree has witnessed how Bangladeshi criminals enter the Indian territory from close-by, and let alone being hanged, enjoy gala-time in a country they should technically not be in, in the first place.

In order to delve deeper into the Bangladeshi menace, and how the Muslims continue to enjoy this open gateway to India, Sonakshi Datta of GoaChronicle went to the border area and spoke with the BSF officers on duty there.

It is highly noteworthy that the moment one enters the border-area at Phansidewa, it will surely prove to be a shocker for the individual, because the place is not even distantly similar to what an international border should be like. Other than a few BSF officers deployed there, on duty, nobody who goes there for the first time will be able to make out that they are standing near the Indo-Bangladesh border. There is no barrier other than thin single-layered wires between the territories of the two countries, making crossing the border for Bangladeshi Muslims, a walk in the park!

Speaking with GoaChronicle, a BSF officer on duty said, ‘Even an animal can cross this thin wire, this is no security from border-crossing Bangladeshis! And if you think we have the power to stop the illegal infiltrators or take legal action against them, you are highly mistaken. Even if we catch an infiltrator, we have to turn him to the police, and the police, hands in glove with the administration and government, does not register a complaint or take action, they just let the culprit go, to roam freely.’

‘Sometimes, even if we look at a Bangladeshi cross the so-called single-wired border right in front of our eyes, we cannot do much. Even if we try to shoot the infiltrators in their leg, to catch them, what they do is quickly take a single step from the wire, and with literally one step, they get into Bangladesh from India once again! And we lose all authority to shoo them. This is a place where one single step can change what nation you are standing in.’, the officer divulged.

He further expressed, talking about the illegal cow-smuggling going on around the border area, ‘We are unable to stop them as we do not have the co-operation of the police or the government. Innumerable cattle are stolen from this area and smuggled into Bangladesh. From here, cattle are also illegally smuggled to distant states in India like Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh.’

‘Another crucial question which is to be asked at this juncture is, while everyone continues to blame the BSF for the cattle smuggling issue, not knowing how we are technically powerless, why don’t they question how such large numbers of cattle are easily transported within the country as well. Nobody asks how trucks, full of cows, reach one end of the country from another, crossing so many states in between, smoothly, without a kernel of trouble.’, he vociferously questioned.

The officer informed GoaChronicle about another elephant in the room, which is sort of an open secret in the country, but nobody addresses, which is, the help these Bangladeshi Muslims get from local Muslims, living in India.

He explained, ‘Everyone, from us BSF officers, to the local villagers, knows how the local Muslims who are Indian citizens, assist the Bangladeshi Muslims in crossing the so-called border, and once these infiltrators enter Indian territory, these local Muslim villagers give them refuge in their homes, hiding them from us.’

‘And when we ask them about the same, they squarely refuse how they play an active part in helping these Bangladeshi Muslims in India.’, the officer added disappointedly.

Apart from the BSF officers, GoaChronicle also spoke with the local villagers, who, sitting by a small river there, said, ‘We are troubled by these illegal infiltrators every day. It is a cakewalk for them to enter this side of the border, especially at night. They enter this area very easily and steal our animals like goats and cows, whom we tie outside our homes.’

It is extremely crucial to note at this point that while this border area is a huge swathe of land, and the one-wired barrier has been made on an area which has open-fields; the area which has the river flowing, is at some distance from these open fields, and this area has absolutely no barrier, whatsoever, differentiating the territories of India and Bangladesh.

This is the reason why people can literally continue to walk down the slope before the river, cross the water-body, and enter Bangladesh from Indian territory! It is nevertheless another aspect that nobody in their right senses would like to enter Bangladesh, that too, illegally! But this swim across the small river is like heaven for the Bangladeshi Muslims, eyeing to enter India.

This is the reason why when GoaChronicle reached the spot, more than two dozen Bangladeshis could be seen swimming in the river, on small island-like structures, and when the villagers were asked as to what these Bangladeshis were up to, they retorted, ‘Stealing Indian sand!’

Sonakshi Datta
Sonakshi Datta
Journalist who wants to cover the truth which others look the other way from.

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