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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Visa? Rs. 1000 lets you enter Bangladesh

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Maslandapur, December 22, 2012
First Published: 00:27 IST(22/12/2012) | Last Updated: 02:36 IST(22/12/2012)

Crossing the Indo-Bangladesh border has never been so hassle free for those without a passport or a visa.

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Stand at a "ghat" of Maslandapur, bag and baggage, and you can get past the border at dawn or dusk. Accommodation for the night is provided. And on the other side, someone will even put you on a vehicle bound for your destination.

The cost?

A meagre Rs. 1000 per head. It buys a 2"X2" piece of yellow paper, carrying a picture of Lord Ganesha, inscribed with Amra Sobai (we are all together).

This little chit is more powerful than any document issued by the governments in New Delhi or Dhaka. With it in your pocket, both the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) will see you through.

The project is the latest brainchild of the human-trafficking syndicates working along the border. And it has been working smoothly for the last six months.

"If one gets caught, one just has to show the ticket. We have local panchayat members, politicians, policemen, BSF and BDR personnel on our payroll," said one of the syndicate members.

The points where the crossovers happen are known as 'ghats' - mostly gates built in the fenced areas. The well-known ghats in Maslandapur-Bongaon area are Tarati, Hakimpur, Swarupda, Balti and Duttapara.

"This is the first time we have come across such printed tickets to facilitate trafficking. This is an alarming development," said J Prasad, deputy inspector general of BSF, South Bengal frontier.

South 24 Parganas police super Sougata Sen admitted he has no information about the practice.

A word of warning, though: The ticket does not ensure safety inside Bangladesh or India. It just ensures a safe passage to the other side.

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