Assam'sborder with Bangladesh in Barak Valley sector continues to be unsafe and porous which allows enough elbow room to infiltrators, extremists and jihadis to sneak into. In fact, during the last one decade, there have been visits after visits by the central and state ministers and high level official teams to oversee the border management of Karimgang which has been frequently in focus for being a safe corridor for anti-national elements. But, things have not improved. According to SN Tiwari, IG Cachar-Mizoram Frontier, 44 per cent fencing has been completed till date on Barak Valley zone.
Jolted by serial bomb blasts in Assam, a central team headed by Jarnail Singh, Border Management Secretary of Union Home Ministry, visited certain specific points of the border from steamer ghat of Karimganj town to Chand Srikona, Sadarashi, Lakhibazar, Lafashail and Sutarkandi trade centre. Though the Secretary refused to take any question from media persons, many startling and disturbing facts came out on this frontier management.
It was discovered by the high level team that the two police check posts at Kushiara and Sutarkandi, besides being in total disarray, have no proper maintenance of records and documents regarding the Bangladeshis entering India. 37 Bangladeshis who entered India with visa this year have made vanishing tricks. Documents and contact address and telephone numbers given by these people turned out to be fake. As specific cases, Abdul Manan entered India on October 4 who furnished Tilagram as his address with telephone number 264230.
Altaf Hussain came to India with visa on October 20 for ten days? stay. As he did not make exit, the police issued arrest warrant, but the address and contact number given by him were found to be false. Sahidul Siddique another Bangladeshi has remained traceless.
The Home Secretary was amazed to see for himself how the police check posts are maintaining records. He could not find any relevant papers about the arrest warrants issued to traceless persons from Bangladesh. The in-charges of the check posts were caught with their fingers crossed.
Several anomalies and irregularities were discovered in the visas, passports and other documents of those who entered from that side of the border. Alerted by the visit of the high level team which besides Jarnail Singh comprised Naveen Varma, Joint Secretary, NE wing of UHM, Deputy Secretary, Ajoy Kanojia, Home Secretary of Assam, Rajiv Kumar Bora, DGP (Border) D P Rao, State PWD Commissioner, Mohan Boro and Chief Engineer, Border Roads, M U Ahmed, the check posts became a bit serious and have started taking photographs of the Bangladeshis entering India. Police however has not shown any seriousness to check and cross check documents, stay address furnished by the entrants. They can easily make vanishing tricks and melt into the vast multitudes. This has been the common phenomenon.
The high level team was virtually shocked to see how the border continues to be unsafe and unprotected. They advised for modernisation of police check posts with computer, digital camera and foolproof security measures. Visas and passports, they stressed, have to be minutely scrutinised to ensure that the Bangladeshis make their exit properly.
It transpired that 187 Bangladeshis who entered India at different times through Karimganj, Sutarkandi and Mahisasan check posts did not return. The records show the figure between 2005 and June 2008 was 63 Bangladeshis missing. Prior to 2004, 124 Bangladeshis did not go back. In a memorandum submitted to Jarnail Singh, Karimganj District BJP Committee has demanded completion of border fencing expeditiously and to take all possible measures to trace out the missing Bangladeshis.
It is quite relevant to mention here that it was through this infamous Karimganj corridor that Huji commander of Sylhet sector while trying to enter on this side of the border was apprehended by BSF on May 14, 2008. He turned out to be a mastermind behind the Jaipur blasts.
To put on record after the State Government of Assam alerted the Centre about the vulnerability of Karimganj border, the Union Home Ministry sent its Joint Secretary G K Pillai for an on the spot study of the situation about a decade back. His day long visit to the border on August 18, 1999 was programmed to include State Home Secretary Mrinal Kanti Barua and a five member AASU team led by its Chief Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharjee and a group of ten Guwahati based journalists.
AASU expressed its displeasure at the fact that the Centre is dithering over the construction of roads and fencing along Assam’s border with Bangladesh as envisioned in Assam Accord. The construction work was delayed by four years. After lapse such a long time, the fencing of border and construction of road are yet to be completed and it progress on a snail’s pace. Even the last Mumbai mayhems have not changed the scenario on border management.