Wagah-like spots along Indo-Bangladesh border await government nod

  • Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 31, 2014 19:06 IST

Sports ministry has proposed to the Union government that developing tourist spots along Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam, like the one at Wagah border post between India and Pakistan, will not only check illegal immigration but also end the isolation of border residents.

The proposal, sent by Union minister of state for sports and youth affairs Sarbananda Sonowal, awaits government nod.

"I have sent the proposal to the highest level in the government. Such places of tourist attraction will provide residents of border areas a sense of belonging as they feel neglected now," Sonowal told HT.

According to Sonowal, dacoities, smuggling of drugs, weapons and counterfeit currency by Bangladeshi gangs have created insecurity among the residents in these areas.

"Just leaving the security of the borders to the Border Security Force will not be effective unless the support of the local people is enlisted. They will be the eyes and ears in combating illegal immigration from Bangladesh," Sonowal said.

The minister said that after extensively touring these areas, he has come to the conclusion that tourist spots will give a fillip of development of roads and other infrastructure such as guest houses.

The daily Beating Retreat or lowering of flags ceremony at Wagah border post attracts many foreign tourists besides hundreds of Indian and Pakistani visitors. The Pakistan tourism department, in fact, has constructed a motel on its side of the post.

A former student leader, Sonowal played a key role in taking the issue of Bangladeshi migration to the Supreme Court, which led to the scrapping of the contentious Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act.

Three districts of Assam—Dhubri, Cachar and Karimganj—share borders with Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh share a 4,165-km-long border.

In a bid to involve the local people, Sonowal also plans special sporting events in these areas.

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