Two years on, Khagragarh residents battle stigma
Residents complain that they are looked upon with suspicion wherever they go.kolkata Updated: Oct 03, 2016 10:27 IST
The impact of the Khagragarh blast has been long-lasting. Though it has been two years since the incident, the residents are still battling with stigma. Residents complain that whenever they say they are from Khagragarh, they are looked upon with suspicion. Further, the residents of this area have been deprived of civic amenities nor has there been any development.
Such is the notoriety of the place now that residents have to put up with stares and suspicious glances whenever they give their address while purchasing a rail or air ticket. The area has also not benefitted from any government project. In fact, things have come to such a pass that a few residents said they want to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee and apprise her of the situation. Some residents prefer not to give anyone their address.
The blast occurred on October 2, 2014 (Mahashtami) in a house in Khagragarh in Burdwan killing two persons — Shobhan Mondal and Shakil Ahmed — and critically injured a third, Abdul Halim. Two women, Ahmed’s wife Rumi Bibi and Halim’s wife Amina Bibi, were arrested and are now in jail custody. The two-storied house at Paschimpara where the blast took place is now haunted. It was sealed in the wake of the incident.
The blast revealed the existence of a terror network in Bengal, set up by Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) which wanted to destabilise the Awami League government in Bangladesh. It also revealed a flourishing illegal trade run by Bangladeshi insurgents in Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand.
A local resident, Seikh Mokhtar, told HT, “When we go to book our railway or plane tickets, officials cast wary glances at us when they see our address. This hurts our sentiments. After the blast, this locality has become famous for all the wrong reasons. We were not involved in the blast, yet it has changed our lives for the worse.”
Another local, Abbas Seikh, said, “When we visit our relatives or during a marriage ceremony people talk about the blast when they come to know we live in Khagragarh. This is painful for us.”
He echoed Mokhtar, saying they were living with the stigma.
Another two residents, MD Hossain and Fatema Bibi, told HT “After the blast, there has been no development in our locality. While other areas of Burdwan town have got concrete roads, Khagragarh has been deprived of any government sponsored development project. The sewerage system hasn’t been upgraded, as a result there is water-logging. The garbage is not disposed of regularly and kids still defecate in local ponds. We have informed the Burdwan Zilla Parishad authorities but to no avail. So we have decided we will meet Mamata Banerjee after Durga Puja.”