Indian villagers seek road or merger with Bangladesh


New Age Desk | Jul 03,2020

A Meghalaya village road near Bangladesh border. Photo: FPSJ Review of Arts and Politics. Courtesy the Wire

Tribal villagers in Meghalaya residing on the edge of India-Bangladesh border asked the Indian government to give away their four villages and its population to Bangladesh if the government was not willing to construct an all-weather road for them, reports Indian news website the Wire.

The tribesmen of villages Hingaria, Huroi, Lahalein and Lejri had been trying to draw the attention of those in power both at New Delhi and Shillong to construct the Rymbai-Bataw-Borkhat-Sonapurroad for many years but their pleas were left unheard.

The absence of a proper road, mobile connectivity and proper medical facilities affected the lives of more than 5,000 people residing in these villages. It had come to a point where the residents had to rely on Bangladesh for their survival since the Indian government was least interested in these border villages.

The four villages fall under the jurisdiction of the East Jaintia Hills district, which is located nearly 200km from Meghalaya’s capital Shillong.

‘The people in the villages are frustrated and tired,’ Wire quoted Kynjaimon Amse, the spokesperson of the four villages as saying after he tribesmen held a meeting recently.

‘It was at the meeting, that the village council and it’s more than 5,000 plus population have decided that it is better for the government to give the four villages and its 5,000 plus population to Bangladesh if the government is not willing to construct the road for us,’ he said.

‘The people have also decided that the four villages will write to the Government of Bangladesh to request for construction of the road for us since the Government of India and Government of Meghalaya have failed to understand our problems,’ he added.

Amse further said, ‘The government has least interest. We have been writing to all government functionaries right from the deputy commissioner to the chief minister and governor, but all we got was false promise. We have also been writing to the PMO, home ministry, NITI Aayog, finance ministry, North Eastern Council and many other offices of the union government for intervention. However, even they are not interested to see to our needs.’

‘Even after the matter has taken up by the high court of Meghalaya and [National Human Rights Commission of India], the governments at both levels have been reluctant to the needs of the people. The proposal worth Rs 123 crore for construction of the road has been lying with the development of northeastern region ministry since April 2019. However, till date the ministry has not even discussed the proposal, hence the same is not approved,’ Amse further explained.