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   ASSAM Border :~

     Cooch Behar has 84 K.M. long border with Assam. Only one Police Station of this district (Boxirhat P.S.) is the bordering Police Station of Assam (district of Dhubri and Kokrajhar). Due to proximity of lacation, people from Assam use Cooch Behar as corridor for their movement to Bhutan and other places outside Assam. Moreover , sometimes they come to this district for their treatment or consulting with doctors.
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   INDO-BANGLADESH Border :~

     Cooch Behar district has 549.45 K.M. long Indo-Bangladesh border. Out of this 549.45 K.M. long Indo-Bangladesh Border fencing to be constructed, more than 300 K.M. long Indo-Bangladesh Border is fenced. Rest is open and at many places open Indo-Bangladesh Border is riverine. There is a heavy deployment of BSF (Border Security Force) personnel on the Border. Eight Battalions (BN) of BSF are deployed in Cooch Behar district. Although the border crimes such as smuggling, infiltration and property offences have considerably decreased over the years, infiltration and cattle smuggling still continues in some portions of the border, specially the riverine border. District Police is extending all sorts of help and co-operation to BSF authority in keeping effective check on illegal activities in the border areas. There are 11 (eleven) police stations in this district of which 8 (eight) are bordering police stations with Bangladesh for guarding of the Indo-Bangladesh Border and to check infiltration, smuggling etc.

     The work of erection of border fencing and construction of border road is in progress. The said work is being done by CPWD authority. Till now, many bordering areas are left unfenced. There is an urgent need to complete the erection of border frncing in Indo-B.D. border area as early as possible to check infiltration/ smuggling/ movement of extremist elements in bordering areas and ensure security of the country. There are reportedly many problems for the delay in the progress of border fencing work such as inconvenience of the people having land or houses on the other side of the fencing., the problem of their movement through the fencing gate, existence of rivers, etc.

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PROGRESS REPORT ON CONSTRUCTION OF BORDER ROADS & FENCING
within the jurisdiction of Cooch Behar district as it stood on 12-JUL-2010
Cooch Behar B.P. Np. 798/MP to 1001/MP
 Land Acquired (in K.M.)  335.004
 Survey carried out (in K.M.)  335.004
 Earthwork completed (in K.M.)  303.870
 EBM completed (in K.M.)  303.870
 Surface Dressing completed (in K.M.)  303.870
 Proposed Border Fencing (in K.M.) [Phase-II]  375.500
 Work of Fencing indertaken (in K.M.)  268.063
 Proposed Border Fencing (in K.M.) [Phase-III]
    (Upgradation work under Phase-III)
  84.87
 Work of Fencing undertaken (in K.M.)   85.09
 Earth Work completed (in K.M.)   71.68
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BORDERING POLICE STATIONS
with respective INDO_BANGLADESH BORDER LENGTH
Name of
Police Stations
Length of Border
Fencing (in K.M.)
 Haldibari 38.9
 Mekhliganj
    (including Kuchlibari)
161.43
 Mathabhanga 50.11
 Sitalkuchi 71.93
 Sitai 44.12
 Dinhata 143.79
 Tufanganj 39.98
 Total Length : 549.45
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   BOP-BSF BN. POSITIONS :~

     The bordering area of Tufanganj P.S., Dinhata P.S., Sitai P.S. and Sitalkuchi P.S. are manned by 13 BN, 46 BN, 113 BN, 127 BN and 181 BN BSF under Cooch Behar Sector. The Bordering area of Mathabhanga P.S., Kuchlibari P.S., Haldibari P.S. and portion of Mekhliganj P.S. are manned by 17 BN, 49 BN, 79 BN & 132 BN BSF under Jalpaiguri Sector. The Bordering area of Changrabandha and portion of Mekhliganj P.S. are manned by 95 BN BSF under Siliguri Sector.

     There are 110 Indian BOPs as against 66 bangladesh BOPs and 8 Indian Bordering Police Stations in this district. Following are the names of the Indian Bordering Police Stations, corresponding Police Stations and Districts of Bangladesh :-

Sl. no. Name of
Police Station
Name of corresponding P.S. & District of Bangladesh
1.  Haldibari  Domar P.S., Bimla P.S., Debiganj P.S., district Nilfamri
2.  Mekhliganj  Patgram P.S., district Lalmanihat
3.  Kuchlibari            - do -
4.  Mathabhanga            - do -
5.  Sitalkuchi  Patgram P.S. & Hatibanda P.S., district Lalmanihat
6.  Sitai  Hatibanda P.S. & Kaliganj P.S., district Lalmanihat
7.  Dinhata  Kaliganj, Lalmanihat, Fulbari & Bhurungamari P.S.s,
 district Lalmanihat & Kurigram
8.  Tufanganj  Bhurungamari P.S., district Kurigram


Closure of HALDIBARI and GITALDAH IMMIGRATION CHECK POST (ICP)

     Haldibari and Gitaldah Immigration Check Posts were declared closed and the Offices there of were winded up with effect from 01.07.2002 as per instruction conveyed under Memo Nos.650/FN dated 20.05.2002, 607/FN dated 13.05.2002 of Home (Foreigners and NRIs) Department, Govt. of West Bengal and I.B. W.B. Memo No. P-1064/3474/2002/PP dated 25.05.2002. At present only Chagrabandha ICP under Mekhliganj P.S. is functioning for the regulation of Traffic movement across the Indo-Bangladesh Border of Cooch Behar district.


TRAFFIC FIGUREs from 2008 to 2009 (upto May, 2010)
Year Indian Nationals Bangladeshi Nationals
Arrival Departure Arrival Departure
 2008 3118 3074 40194 39529
 2009 3375 3396 26945 25797
 Upto June, 2010 1892 1970 11255 9578
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   CHHIT-MAHALS (ENCLAVES) and their Problems :~

     The Chhit-Mahals or enclaves are outlying and detached tracks of land situated inside Rangpur district of Bangladesh. Similarly, there are Bangladeshi Chhit-Mahals located inside Cooch Behar district. There are 111 Indian Chhit-Mahals located in Bangladesh having 17158.13 acres of land with an approximate population of 1,50,000 where as there are 51 Bangladeshi Chhit-Mahals located inside the Indian Territory having 7110.02 acres of land. The given details of enclaves were jointly compared and reconciled with records held by India and Bangladesh during the Indo-Bangladesh Boundary Conference held at Kolkata from 9th to 12th October, 1996 as well as during filed inspection at Jalpaiguri (West Bengal) - Pachagarh (Bangladesh Sector) from 21st to 24th November, 1996. There is no other intriguing fact about these Chhit-Mahals but at certain places there are enclaves within enclaves. In certain cases the parent enclave belongs to Cooch Behar district (India) and the enclaves located inside belongs to Bangladesh. A land border agreement was signed by India and Bangladesh on 16th May, 1974 which provides, among other things, for exchange of enclaves between the two countries at a future date. However, the said agreement is yet to be ratified by the two Governments before it comes into operation. It is very difficult to segregate the Chhit dwellers as there are no clearly demarcated boundaries. Although there is no concrete historical evidence behind the origin of these Chhits, it is believed that the kings of both sides ceded these pieces of land to each other during games of Chess.

     Since these Chhit-Mahals are located in India as well as Bangladesh, the access to these places is being controlled by the respective country, although the sovereignty over the territory lies with the respective country. Due to the problem of their geographical location, people in these areas are unable to enjoy their basic, political, economic, social and cultural rights as being enjoyed by the other ordinary citizens of the respective countries. The in-accessibility to these areas as well as the free movement to the respective main land have made their life absolutely miserable. The people residing in these Chhit-Mahals are unable to have basic human rights being enjoyed by the people in their respective countries. They do not have access to health or basic education facilities, electricity, clean drinking water and decent livelihood. The economic condition of these people is very bad and they are living in abject poverty. It has been estimated that average income of the Chhit dwellers is less than Rs.17 per day. The people residing in these areas are unable to exercise their basic political rights. The Indian citizens who live in the Bangladeshi Chhits have never been included in the census and have almost no proof of their being Indian citizens. The same is the condition of the Bangladeshi Chhits. To sum up it can be said that the people residing in these areas are deprived of their basic human rights because of no faults of them, as well as because of the fact that there is no administrative machinery to look after their interest. The people of these Chhit-Mahals are dependent on the nearby markets, yet they are illegal aliens when they try to approach them. They can access any facility only through surreptitious means, always with a fear of getting caught. There is a state of lawlessness and in certain cases these Chhit-Mahals have reportedly become the dens of criminals and anti-social elements.

     Since there is no free access to the administration of the respective countries in these Chhit-Mahals, the last solution would lie in the immediate reciprocal exchange of Indian and Bangladesh enclaves to solve the problems of the people residing in these areas. An organisation styled "Association For Citizens Rights for Indian Chhit-Mahals and Oustees" was formed sometimes ago and became active in highlighting the problems of the residents of Indian enclaves and demanding immediate reciprocal exchange of the Chhit-Mahals between India and Bangladesh.

     Except for Dahagram-Angarpota Chhit-Mahals to which Bangladesh has access through the Tinbigha corridor, none of the Chhits have access to their motherland.
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   TINBIGHA Corridor :~

     The Tinbigha Corridor is a strip of land situated 10 K.M. south-east of Mekhliganj Sub-divisional town measuring about 178 mtrs X 85 mtrs in dimension. It comprises parts of 146 Upen-Chowki Mouza of Kuchlibari and 139 Fulkadabri of Kashiabari Mouzas in Mekhliganj Block. It is located strategically between the Bangladesh enclaves of Dahagram and Angarpota on the west and Panbari Mouza of Bangladesh on the east. Both the enclaves fall within the jurisdiction of Patgram Police Station of Bangladesh.

     This Tinbigha strip of land occupies a very important position for communication as it is the only channel of communication between Kuchlibari Gram Panchayat on the south-eastern side of Mekhliganj (Cooch Behar) through the Mekhliganj-Dhaprahat metalled road. The inhabitants of Kuchlibari depends on this Tinbigha corridor for their movement to and from Mekhliganj Sub-divisional town, carrying on their day-to-day business, trade, commerce and court matters. Maintenance of law and order in Kuchlibari area from Sub-divisional Headquarter also depends on Tinbigha strip.

     On the other hand, after Tinbigha corridor agreement with Bangladesh it has become the passage for traffic movement between Panbari Mouza in Bangladesh mainland and Bangladeshi enclaves of Dahagram and Angarpota.

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PERMISSIBLE TIME for MOVEMENT of BANGLADESH TRAFFIC through TINBIGHA CORRIDOR

     As per the agreement between the Govt. of India and Govt. of Bangladesh, the Tinbigha corridor was inaugurated on 26/06/1992. Initially the people of bangladesh could use this corridor at every alternate hours from 06:00hrs. to 18:00hrs. Subsequently in the year 2001, Tinbigha corridor used to remain open for movement of Bangladeshi traffic from 06:00hrs. to 18:00hrs. continuously. This extension of time limit was objected by some local people under the banner of Sangram Samity, Kuchlibari. The members mainly belonged to AITMC/BJP and INC.

Agitation
     Of late, an organisation styled as Bharat Bangladesh Chhit Mahal Binimoy Samannay Committee (Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Co-ordination Committee) has taken up the cause of the people of Indian Enclaves. Dipak Sengupta, (Ex.-MLA and former leader of All India Forward Block and presently the General Secretary of Janabadi Forward Block - an organisation having its head office at Sahid corner, Dinhata, Cooch Behar) launched few agitational programmes over the problems of the enclave dwellers. On 14th April, 2008, at the instance of the organisation about 2000 inhabitants of different enclaves organised a demonstration in front of the Office of the District Magistrate, Cooch Behar demanding stoppage of initiating prosecution under Foreigners Act against the residents of enclaves both Indian and Bangladeshi till the process of proposed exchange of enclaves is completed. It was requested by them that who have been already arrested should be released and allowed to go back to their respective enclaves. They also proposed that arrangement should be made for supply of electricity and identity cards issued by B.B.E.E.C.C. should be recognised as I.D. Cards.

Sentiment of the Indian people :
     Indian people in general are not happy with the Tinbigha Agreement for allowing transit facility through the corridor to Bangladeshi people without any sanction of the problems of Indian enclaves. The people residing in Kuchlibari are aggreived, because they are facing inconveniences in their movement for interruptions during the time of traffic movement for Bangladesh through the corridor. Indian people every year observe Sahid Dibash on 26th June adjacent to Tinbigha to commemorate the deaths of those who died over Tinbigha agitation.

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Click to know more about Tinbigha

   OTHER BORDER RELATED ISSUES :~

Cattle Smuggling:
Cooch Behar has a long border with Bangladesh which is not completely fenced. Still there are many riverine areas which can not be fenced. Also there are villages beyond the fence. There is also a very large amount of agricultural land between the fence and zero line, where farmers go every day with their cattle to tend their fields. The gaps, especially the riverine areas, are susceptible to cattle smuggling. It is also known that cattle from Northern India is also smuggled through these corridors. Efforts are made by the Administration, Police and BSF authorities to curb this, but due to high demand in Bangladesh, it appears to a lucrative trade to the locals in spite of the risk.

Farmers Problems:
The border fence is at a distance of about 150 m from the zero line. At different places it is upto 600 m from the zero line due to the terrain. The farmers who own agricultural land on the other side of the fence are allowed to tend their fields between 6 am to 6 pm after depositing identity papers at gates handled by BSF. Since there is no access at night, this crop is open to theft. In winter the farmers are unable to grow crops like potato, tobacco etc. due to fear of theft. Boro paddy is an alternative, but lack of irrigation facility prevents this. So the farmers are dependent on jute as a cash crop during the rainy season. But due to the height of jute and thickness of growth, the BSF authorities discourage and mostly prevent by force, the plantation of jute. In the past few years a number of farmers have been greatly affected due to this.

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