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A ramshackle Dispur BOP is itself in jeopardy

There is a false sense of security amid Dispur’s failed border management in inter-State border areas; one such BOP at Maikhuli in the Patharkuchi area in the Dispur legislative assembly constituency along the Assam-Meghalaya border unfolds the unfortunate tale of security of fringe dwellers of the State into a case of utter neglect towards the crucial matter

GUWAHATI, June 10: Dispur seems to have made a fool of the people of the State living in inter-State border areas by impressing on them a false sense of security of their lives and property over the years, besides the territory of the State itself. The ground reality is a pointer to a grim but neglected reality.

Assam has a number of outposts (BOPs) along its inter-State borders with Meghalaya and other neighbouring States. Such outposts are meant to protect the people of the State living along border areas and their property, besides the territory of the State from encroachers of the neighbouring States. The onus of keeping Dispur informed of any undesirable development along the inter-State border also lies with the personnel manning such BOPs. However, the condition under which the personnel manning such BOPs have to render their service to the State reeks of utter negligence from the State administration towards them.

One such BOP at Maikhuli in the Patharkuchi area in the Dispur legislative assembly constituency along the Assam-Meghalaya border unfolds the unfortunate tale of security of fringe dwellers of the State into a case of utter neglect towards the crucial matter. It seems that the bitter experiences which the State has had in the past during border skirmishes with the neighbouring States have failed to teach Dispur any lesson. The BOP at Maikhuli in Kamrup (M) makes a perfect case study as this is located quite close to seat of power, Dispur.

Kamrup(M) district shares a 35-km border with Meghalaya. According to government records, Meghalaya has encroached upon 1138.02 hectares of Assam land, including 314 bighas, three kathas and three lessas of Kamrup(M) district.

To whom must the blame go? Is the strength of the personnel deployed for their job or the facilities they get not up to the mark?
Let’s have a peep into the BOP. The BOP has CI sheets overhead and bamboo walls on all the four sides – all giving it the look of a makeshift structure. Yes, this is indeed a makeshift structure – a barrack, an office room and a kitchen, all rolled into one. The floor of the room gets flooded with water when it rains. In front of the structure there are some earth-filled sacs piled up one over the other in rows. Such structures are supposed to give the much-needed cover to the personnel during firing by miscreants. However, one wonders whether the sacs can sustain any bullets! Security threat continues to haunt the personnel manning the BOP. When the police personnel deployed by Dispur for the security of fringe dwellers are themselves under security threat, how can they provide security to the residents there along with their property?

The 21 personnel manning the BOP use a bamboo structure as their toilet, making mockery of the intense campaign on Swachch Bharat Abhiyan that Dispur has been associated with. The bamboo wall of the toilet has adjacent to it a burial ground of Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya. The situation as a whole gives a look that in the event of a border skirmish, the security personnel manning the BOP will themselves be in jeopardy, let alone providing security to the people there.

The tale of the BOP does not end here. Five of the 21 security personnel manning the BOP are still attached to former minister Rakibul Hussain as security personnel! The remaining 16 personnel have to carry out night patrol under Bashistha police station, apart from keeping vigil on the inter-State border.

In the ultimate analysis, the question is: If the management of an inter-State border so very close to Dispur is as messy as this, what might be the reality in the far-flung and remote areas of the State? Let Dispur ponder.
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Ankur Kalita