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Hindus, Muslims worship Durga in ‘no man’s land’: Assam

Sabrangindia 03 Oct 2022

Durga Puja
Representation Image

A collective Durga Pooja celebration, across a thin, artificial line, a black coiled barbed wire (border) in the no- man’s land” at Gobindapur and Manikpur villages in Assam’s  Karimganj district bordering Bangladesh reports The Times of India. Thirty-eight families, 36 Hindu and two Muslim are celebrating Durga Pooja without pomp or grandeur.

Both villages fall outside the fencing and have been  isolated from the mainland. Work on the 124-kilometre long barbed wire fencing began in 1994 in the Barak Valley areas of Assam. Undeterred, villagers have been together performing Durga Puja in the over 100-year-old Shiva temple which also falls in the “no man’s land”.

“The puja in the temple is being performed long before Partition. However, it was in 1984 that the families landed up here, “no man’s land” when the fence was erected. “We were isolated from the mainland. As we cannot visit the Indian mainland every now and then because of restrictions by the BSF, we, the 38 families, including the Muslims, continue to celebrate Durga Puja in the temple. We could not celebrate the last two years because of Covid-19 restrictions,” said the Durga Puja Committee president Sajal Namasudra.
Locals told TOI that the local BSF men belonging to the 7 battalion have been cooperating in every spare, including arranging in the area which is adjacent to Natagram areas of Sylhet division of Bangladesh. North Karimganj MLA Kamalaksha Dey Purkayasthya and members of a number NGOs have also helped, Namasudra said.

Yet another Durga Puja at Manikpur village in Karimganj which also falls in “no man’s land” between India and Bangladesh, has been hosting the 153rd year of the puja this year. The temple of Durga was established by Narandra Malakar, a landlord during the British period on his own land.Strangely, in the process of erecting the barbed wire in 1994, the temple was left on the “no man’s land”. The Indian villagers living on the Bangladesh side of the barbed wire fencing were rehabilitated in the mainland and the temple was left abandoned. “People couldn’t cross the gates due to BSF’s strict security measures. However, since 2011 with full cooperation of the BSF, locals renovated the abandoned temple and revived the puja,” said a functionary of Manikpur Durga Puja Committee.

BSF sources said Indian citizens living outside the fence are allowed to cross the gates by showing identity documents from 6 am to 11 am and from 1 pm to 5 pm every day. During Durga Puja, the BSF allows Indian villagers of Manikpur to cross the gates from 5 am to 5 pm. However, there’s no relaxation for villagers of Gobindapur during puja.

This district of Assam, Karimganj, shares about 94-km border with Bangladesh. People of many areas, including Lafasail, Gobindapur, Latukandi, Jarapata, Lafasail, Lamajuwar, Mahisashan, Kourbag, Deotali and Jobainpur have been living outside the border fence for decades.
Under the mutually agreed India-Bangladesh Border Guidelines for Border Authorities, 1975, no construction of permanent nature is allowed within 150 yards (137.16 metres) on either side of the international boundary, BSF sources said.

Hindus, Muslims worship Durga in ‘no man’s land’: Assam

Durga Puja
Representation Image

A collective Durga Pooja celebration, across a thin, artificial line, a black coiled barbed wire (border) in the no- man’s land” at Gobindapur and Manikpur villages in Assam’s  Karimganj district bordering Bangladesh reports The Times of India. Thirty-eight families, 36 Hindu and two Muslim are celebrating Durga Pooja without pomp or grandeur.

Both villages fall outside the fencing and have been  isolated from the mainland. Work on the 124-kilometre long barbed wire fencing began in 1994 in the Barak Valley areas of Assam. Undeterred, villagers have been together performing Durga Puja in the over 100-year-old Shiva temple which also falls in the “no man’s land”.

“The puja in the temple is being performed long before Partition. However, it was in 1984 that the families landed up here, “no man’s land” when the fence was erected. “We were isolated from the mainland. As we cannot visit the Indian mainland every now and then because of restrictions by the BSF, we, the 38 families, including the Muslims, continue to celebrate Durga Puja in the temple. We could not celebrate the last two years because of Covid-19 restrictions,” said the Durga Puja Committee president Sajal Namasudra.
Locals told TOI that the local BSF men belonging to the 7 battalion have been cooperating in every spare, including arranging in the area which is adjacent to Natagram areas of Sylhet division of Bangladesh. North Karimganj MLA Kamalaksha Dey Purkayasthya and members of a number NGOs have also helped, Namasudra said.

Yet another Durga Puja at Manikpur village in Karimganj which also falls in “no man’s land” between India and Bangladesh, has been hosting the 153rd year of the puja this year. The temple of Durga was established by Narandra Malakar, a landlord during the British period on his own land.Strangely, in the process of erecting the barbed wire in 1994, the temple was left on the “no man’s land”. The Indian villagers living on the Bangladesh side of the barbed wire fencing were rehabilitated in the mainland and the temple was left abandoned. “People couldn’t cross the gates due to BSF’s strict security measures. However, since 2011 with full cooperation of the BSF, locals renovated the abandoned temple and revived the puja,” said a functionary of Manikpur Durga Puja Committee.

BSF sources said Indian citizens living outside the fence are allowed to cross the gates by showing identity documents from 6 am to 11 am and from 1 pm to 5 pm every day. During Durga Puja, the BSF allows Indian villagers of Manikpur to cross the gates from 5 am to 5 pm. However, there’s no relaxation for villagers of Gobindapur during puja.

This district of Assam, Karimganj, shares about 94-km border with Bangladesh. People of many areas, including Lafasail, Gobindapur, Latukandi, Jarapata, Lafasail, Lamajuwar, Mahisashan, Kourbag, Deotali and Jobainpur have been living outside the border fence for decades.
Under the mutually agreed India-Bangladesh Border Guidelines for Border Authorities, 1975, no construction of permanent nature is allowed within 150 yards (137.16 metres) on either side of the international boundary, BSF sources said.

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