But Sweety, Sonamoni and Eliza all are Indian citizen. Although they live in India they are taking their education in madrasas situated in Bangladesh. And this is the reason why they do not know the names of national flower, national game or national bird instead of their Indian citizenship. Everyday they sing national anthem. What is that? They sing Aamar Sonar Bangla… instead of Bande Mataram or Jana Gana Mana… .
This is the story of Nicha Gobindapur village of South Dinajpur district, adjacent to Hilli, on Indo-Bangladesh border. This village is surrounded with barbed wire. A total of 31 students of this village regularly go to Doudpur madrasa in Bangladesh for their education.
Even after having Indian identity they are not allowed to know the history of their own country. Instead they study the history of Bangladesh, history of Islam, Hadis, Quran, and Fikah, a book written in Aarbi language. In class examination or final exam they are asked to write the life and time of Hazrat Muhammad, topography of ancient Arab, how it looked like. These students of Nicha Gobindapur have to appear in examination under the Madrasa Education Board of Bangladesh. After passing through the examination they take admission in Dinajpur College of Bangladesh. This is the way how a group of Indian students are growing up.
Nicha Gobindapur village is actually detached from Hilli block. No road is there except pagdandis. No electricity. There is no school or madrasa nearby this village on Indian side. Apart from Nicha Gobindapur there are other villages like Hanripur, Ujal, Uttar Jamalpur, Aptore, Agra etc. on Hilly border which are surrounded by barbed wire and on both sides i.e. on India and Bangladesh sides there are two gates by which the security forces control the human and material traffic. The gates are generally open up three times in a day. But mysteriously enough that the gate on Bangladesh side remains open for the whole day for reasons unknown to the villagers. After coming out from the gate of Indian side, one has to walk at least 3 kms, to reach the only primary school and the high school. As the gate control system is erratic on Indian side, people living in these villages prefer going to madrasas in Bangladesh as the gate on that side remains open for the whole day.
Sweety a student of class V, Paribanu, a student of class VI, class IX student Sonamoni and class X student Eliza — they all say: “It is very convenient for them to attend the Doudpur madrasa as it is only 500 metres away from their village. School starts at 10 am and runs upto 4 pm In between there is Tiffin break. During this period many students go home to take mid day meals and again they come back to attend class. Bangladesh Rifles uncles are very helpful. They never stop us”.
When asked a BSF officer he said that they have no such information as Indian citizens are daily going to attend classes in schools and colleges situated in Bangladesh. But local Dhalaparagram Panchayat Pradhan Shri Anil Roy of RSP admitted the fact. The barbed wire surrounded villages of this border area do not have any primary school or high school for long time and for that reason Indian citizens living here are going to Doudpur madrasa in Bangladesh for taking education. Two years back the Bengal Literacy Mission started one primary school in Nicha Gobindapur village and with that they could at least successful in stopping the outflow of students from the said village to Bangladesh. Till today Literacy Mission could not build up any house for the school and classes are being held under the open sky. There are two teachers — Majid Ali Mondal and Parimal Mondal. There are 45 children in this school.
But on secondary level education local Panchayat is not taking any initiative. Hence the students who were going to Doudpur madrasa are still continuing to go there. The latest information on this front is that the Bangladesh Madrasa Board has started giving text books to Indian students free of cost.
(Writer is a former Member of Press Council of India)