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Sealing the Border

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 Dec 2017 12:00 AM GMT

The most rudimentary fact of life about intertiol borders is that they have to be so well sealed that no irregular movements can take place across such borders. There has to be a rigid protocol about the kind of documents that are acceptable for permitting authorized persons to cross the border. There can be no relaxations to the rules governing the crossing of intertiol borders. Quite obviously, the norms set for permitting people to cross intertiol borders cannot be different for different intertiol borders of the same country. But this is precisely what has happened in the case of India. There is a vast difference between the rigidity and strictness with which the India-Pakistan border is guarded and the India-Bangladesh border is guarded. The India-Pakistan border to our west is so rigidly guarded that there can be no question of anyone crossing it without proper travel documents. By contrast, the India-Bangladesh border in the east is actually open at several points. People of Bangladesh can still graze their cattle during the day in India and take them back in the evening. Several sections of the India-Bangladesh border are completely open at all times. As far as the India-Pakistan border in the west is concerned, the norms are entirely different. There is not even a small section of the India-Pakistan border that is not entirely sealed. And the shoot-at-sight norm for any violation of the rigid norms on the India-Pakistan border is scrupulously observed. One recalls how during his brief spell as Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram had issued clear instructions that there was to be no shooting down of anyone who crossed the India-Bangladesh border illegally. He had made no such stipulation in respect of the India-Pakistan border. One fails to understand why there should be such a difference in the guarding of the two intertiol borders in our east and west.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal said on Sunday that the entire stretch of the India-Bangladesh border would be totally sealed by December 2018. This raises at least two pertinent questions: (a) Why was the border not completely sealed in all these decades? (b) Why do we have different standards of security for our two intertiol borders? Was it the purpose of Home Minsters like P. Chidambaram to indicate that the different norms that we have for the India-Pakistan border and the India-Bangladesh border is because one of the countries across the border is regarded as an enemy country while the other is regarded as a friendly one? Even if this is not categorically stated, is it not the message that the comity of tions is bound to infer from the way India has two separate norms for its two intertiol borders? In more than four decades since East Pakistan became Bangladesh, we have had successive governments in India totally ignoring the imperative of sealing the India-Bangladesh border because large-scale illegal migration from Bangladesh ebled these migrants to get their mes into the electoral rolls and to form a huge illegal vote bank for ruling parties—a clear case of patriotism for the country being jettisoned for electoral issues.

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