India and Bangladesh have initiated the process to end a five-decade row over a river island in south Tripura. Surveyors of both countries are engaged in demarcating the boundary at Muhurichar, the disputed 66-acre piece of land for which border forces on both sides have fought on numerous occasions in the past five decades.
The surveyors assisted by the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) are marking the border for the past couple of days. “Temporary pillars are being set up at every point demarcated and the process is expected to take five days to complete,” BSF’s 89 battalion Commandant Sanjay Sharma told newsmen on Saturday.
In 1964, security forces of India and erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, first exchanged fire over Muhurichar after it surfaced following erosion in the river Muhuri. The last skirmish that went for continuous three days was in 1999 after which border forces agreed to maintain status quo.
The tension surrounding the island even prevented State authorities to construct embankment to protect Belonia, the south district headquarters, from floods. The Bangladesh border force has been threatening Indian farmers from cultivating nearby paddy fields.
“The current survey work is taking place as part of the latest bilateral agreement between Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina and Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2011,” said a senior south Tripura district official on condition of anonymity.