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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

BSF on alert to prevent infiltration from Bangladesh during idol immersion

According to a custom that dates back to the creation of Bangladesh, after Durga Puja ends, the idols of the two countries are carried to the middle of the river from either side. The boats sail on the territorial waters of the other side with the occupants of vessels from one country exchanging greetings of Vijaya Dasami with people in the boats from the other side.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2019 18:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Outlining their plan, a BSF officer said they have decided to deploy both speed boats and mechanised country boats to patrol the river during the immersion.
Outlining their plan, a BSF officer said they have decided to deploy both speed boats and mechanised country boats to patrol the river during the immersion.(PTI FILE PHOTO.)
         

The Border Security Force (BSF) has taken special measures to ensure that no infiltration takes place from Bangladesh during immersion of Durga idols that takes place customarily on the Ichhamati River that separates Bengal and Bangladesh in the district of North 24 Parganas.

According to a custom that dates back to the creation of Bangladesh, after Durga Puja ends, the idols of the two countries are carried to the middle of the river from either side. The boats sail on the territorial waters of the other side with the occupants of vessels from one country exchanging greetings of Vijaya Dasami with people in the boats from the other side.

Though nobody would say it on record, there has always been a strong suspicion of infiltration taking place using this opportunity as people can cross over from one boat to another.

The unhindered interaction between boats of the two countries was discontinued from 2018.

“It has been decided that the boats from the Indian side would remain near the western bank while the boats from Bangladesh would remain near their end,” Somnath Mukherjee, chairman of the Taki municipality said. Most of the boats carrying idols from the Indian side start from the various ghats from Taki, a town in North 24 Parganas district about 70 km to the east of Kolkata.

“We will be taking steps so that no anti-national element, no transborder criminal can exploit the situation. Therefore, such instructions have also been given to the troops,” a senior officer of the BSF South Bengal section said on condition of anonymity on Sunday.

Outlining their plan, a BSF officer said they have decided to deploy both speed boats and mechanised country boats to patrol the river during the immersion.

The areas where the deployment will take place are Hingalganj, Bazarpost, Rajnagar, Taki, Samsan Ghat, Bose Ghat and Rajbari Ghat.

The special deployment would take place on October 8 and 9, the days of the idol immersion.

The immersion has to be done between 3 pm and 5:30 pm, according to rules.

“The BSF will try to ensure that the immersion is carried out smoothly and the sentiment of the people is not hurt,” said the officer.

“On October 2, we had a meeting with BSF officers and the local administration, where it was discussed that the boats carrying idols from the two countries would not be allowed to come close to each other. Idols of pujas in Bengal will be immersed in the Indian side and those of Bangladesh will be immersed on the side of that country,” said an officer of a police station in North 24 Parganas.

The immersion of Durga idols in the Ichhamati River touches such a chord among a large section of the people so that all hotels and guest houses in Taki municipal area on the banks of the river are fully booked every year weeks ahead of the immersion as lakhs throng to the small civic body area.

A large number of people also gather on the banks of the river on the Bangladesh side to watch the immersion.

To prevent the entry of criminal elements in Taki, it has been decided by the local administration, elected representatives and BSF personnel that this year one should keep one’s voter identity card and Aadhaar card while trying to enter the municipality, Dipendu Biswas, a legislator from Basirhat South said.

The Taki municipality chairman said the police are also keeping vigil. “As in earlier years, all hotels, lodges and guest houses in the area have been completely booked well in advance,” said Somnath Mukherjee.

Significantly, though none would connect the heightened BSF activity to the special plans on Durga idol immersion in the Ichhamati River, infiltration has increasingly become a much-discussed topic in Bengal politics from before the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections.