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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Tale of two villages

This is a tale of two Gobindapurs ? one that is caught in two minds and the other between two countries, reports Rahul Karmakar.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 04:45 IST

This is a tale of two Gobindapurs — one that is caught in two minds and the other between two countries.

The first is a 400-acre tea estate in Golaghat district near the Assam-Nagaland border. A sick garden under lockout, Gobindapur made headlines when 250 labourers surrendered at the Numaligarh police station after brutally killing proprietor Rupak Gogoi on February 11 last year for non-payment of wages.

Nearly 1,200 people residing in the labour lines of the squalid estate are in a dilemma. Many of them are unaware that a political world beyond Congress exists, but those who do are are not too sure whether they should vote for the party their deceased proprietor was associated with? Rupak’s mother Bandana Gogoi, widow of former Speaker Jibakanta Gogoi, is the Congress candidate from Khumtai Assembly constituency.

The BJP and AGP are trying to cash in on the out-of-job plantation workers’ woes painting the Congress labour arm — Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangh as the villain.

The other Gobindapur is in Karimganj district in Barak Valley. Located on the imaginary Zero Line, splitting India and Bangladesh, it is 5 km from Karimganj town. Like the other 25 villages along this border, it is hemmed in. A barbed-wire fence built by the BRO and a gate, allow Bangladeshi villagers access to “India on the other side of the fence” thrice a day. Villagers like Abdul Kalam sleep in sleeping in India and dine in Bangladesh — the Zero Line divides his bedroom and kitchen. But they have learnt to make the best of both worlds, rather countries. Displaying his photo ID issued by Bangladesh, Kalam says: “We vote because it is our right, but neither the Assam government nor the Bangladesh government have time to think about us.”

BSF officials confirms the status of Zero Line villagers as dual voters. “They also possess ration cards issued by both countries,” a senior official said.