Volume 5, Issue 1
Crossers of the peripheries: Some aspects of cross-border livelihood practices along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border
Debdatta Chowdhury *

ABSTRACT: Cartographic borders between states are often spaces of complex survival strategies, not just interms of security threats to lives but also in terms of devising unique livelihood practices by the people living along the border. The West Bengal-Bangladesh border is no different, except for the fact that similar ethnic population profile on both sides of the border makes the situation a shade more complex. This paper attempts to highlight, very briefly, on some of the livelihood practices seen along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border which ensure a daily bread for the people but challenge the purpose of the border, at the same time. They simulataneously portray the ‘border people’ as both victims of border-making as well as active users of the opportunities which the border creates. This paper is also an attempt to highlight the phenomenon of ‘crossing’ in the context of the livelihood practices discussed.


One of the first images that the idea of an international border between two states evokes in our minds is that of patrolling state personnel and stringent surveillance mechanisms. The state with its laws and regulations is omnipresent along the length of such borders. The border fences, the border guards and the surveillance mechanisms are an extension of the power structure of the state, whose, major concern is the maintenance of territorial sanctity. However, a closer understanding of the border locates the innumerable undercurrents which characterise such borders. Ways of negotiating the border that border people innovate over the years constitute such undercurrents. Socio-legal and socio-economic narratives of these border people, especially the various cross-border livelihood practices, often contest and redefine the regulatory practices devised by the state along the border. Over years of negotiation, cross-border practices become integral, and almost characteristic of, the legal infrastructure in borderlands. The very ideas of regulation and law are redefined when seen from the perspectives of the people for whom they are meant, i.e. the border people. Thispaperaims to look at certain forms of cross-border livelihood practices along areas of the India-Bangladesh border, specifically at the border area between Bangladesh and West Bengal (India).

West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and shares a 2,216.70 kilometre-long border with Bangladesh. In 1986, India sanctioned the construction of barbed fencing along the length of its border with Bangladesh. Accordingly, construction of the fence was started in early 1990s. While most parts of the border have been fenced, there are still some parts which could not be fenced either due to protest from the local border people or due to environmental concerns. As and when the fence has been constructed, the border people have devised new ways of surviving the border and the fencing. The West Bengal-Bangladesh borderline, ever since its inception in 1947 (fencing of the border started later in 1990s), has interrupted traditional livelihood practices and trade routes of this area. The border has, not just, turned a mainland area (the territory that constituted Bengal under British rule) into a marginal area, but has also rendered some of the traditional livelihood movements and practices illegal. The construction of the fence has made matters worse. Border people are, however, still seen to be engaged in cross-border livelihood practices despite these practices being labelled as illegal by the state. Certain new or evolved forms of legal livelihood practices have also come into existence with the formation of the border. Both the legal and the illegal forms of livelihood practices along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border have redefined certain terms like inside, outside, crossing etc.

A number of research and survey-studies have, over the last few years, addressed issues of livelihood practices along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. Most of these studies (Samaddar: 1999; Van Schendel:2005; Van Schendel and Abraham: 2005; Banerjee and Basu Ray Chaudhury: 2011) have addressed practices which are illegal by the definition of the states concerned and pose a security threat, directly or indirectly, to the same. These studies form the base for a portion of this article as they provide a very detailed scenario of certain illegal livelihood practices along the border, especially the ones to do with smuggling of goods, drugs and human. But what these works fail to address are the so-called ‘normal’ everyday livelihood practices, like agriculture, labourer work, fishing etcwhich are also affected by their proximity to the border. These rudimentary livelihood practices, which are not unique to borderlands but are common to any other place in India and Bangladesh (unlike cross-border smuggling) are, nevertheless, affected and moulded by the fact that they are practiced along an international border. In the process, these practices attain a uniqueness, not seen in their mainland versions. ‘Crossing the borderline’ becomes a decisive issue along the border when it comes to such everyday practices as agriculture or fishing, otherwise seen to be practiced all over India and Bangladesh. It is this everydayness of these practices that this article attempts to highlight, with help from my own interviews (conducted during my field studies along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border in 2011 and 2012), newspaper reports and articles and few survey reports (Cheruveri: 2006; Das: 2012; Bhattacharjee: 2013) conducted by researchers and scholars for various institutes/organisations. The main scope of the article is the process and consequence of border-crossing with reference to the diverse kinds of livelihoods along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border and how a complex web of legal and illegal practices have, in the process, developed over the years along the said border. This article, thus, leaves out a number of such practices which are affected by the border but do not entail ‘crossing’ per se, in order to limit itself to the scope of the theme of ‘crossing’ that this article tries to address.

Literature review

Substantial research on theorisation of borderlands and the phenomenon of border-making around the world has been produced so far (Prescott: 1968, 1978; Donnanand Wilson: 1994, 1998, 1999;Martinez: 1994). A good number of work has also been done on the India-Bangladesh border, including the West Bengal-Bangladesh border (Van Schendel:2005; Van Schendel and Abraham: 2005, Samaddar: 1999, Jones: 2009, Banerjee: 2010; Banerjee and Basu Ray Chaudhury: 2011). But most of these works have focussed primarily on the more visible and easily discernible practices of livelihood, for example cattle-smuggling and trafficking. This paper attempts to point out some other aspects of livelihood which might seem insignificant in the larger scenario of things, but are nevertheless important indices of ‘crossings’. These practices, in their own ways, question the foundation of the border, in its failure to ‘contain’ its people. Most of these ‘other’ livelihood practices are no different from the ones seen in any other part of West Bengal or India and are rudimentary in nature. But border narratives, manifested here in the form of livelihood practices, are rudimentary yet subversive in nature. It is this nature thatmakes such practices parts of everyday narratives of survival but also gives them a uniqueness.

The existing literature also do not highlight the phenomenon of ‘crossing’ per se, in discussing these livelihoods, but focus more on what these livelihoods entail for the people and what they mean to the respective states. I attempt, in this paper, to focus more on the phenomenon of crossing that these livelihoods involve and how through such crossings, these practices subvert the purpose of the border.

This paper is also an attempt to question the various debates on borderlessness (Ohmae:1990, 1995; Shapiro and Alker: 1996), in terms of its attempt to establish that such crossings do not blur the border, as proponents of borderlessness argue, but actually make the existence of the border more visible. Such borderland narratives, by way of challenging the border, only strenghtens the existence of the border.

Unlike some of the scholars who see the establishment of a third space along this border through the refusal of the border people to belong either to India or Bangladesh and create an identity of their own (Jones: 2012), I seek to establish that the third space is indeed created, but not through refusal of either identities but through the combination of both—making the border, truly, a space where two states meet.

Access to ‘fenced-out’ agricultural farmlands

The predominant means of livelihood in India is agriculture, which provides for more than 70% of the population. The rural areas of India are dependent almost entirely on agriculture-related livelihoods. Most of the post-1947 migrant peasant communities crossing the West Bengal-Bangladesh border settled along it and took up agriculture as an obvious occupation. While their traditional agricultural skill was one reason for the choice, the topography of extensive farmland along the border was another reason. Most of the original inhabitants of the areas which became the border areas after partition were already pursuing agriculture-related livelihoods. This implied that agriculture-related livelihoods became, and still are, the predominant means of livelihood along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border.

The predominance of these livelihoods is characteristic of almost all the rural areas of India and Bangladesh. Yet the nature of some of the aspects of these livelihood practices attains a unique feature in the context of their performance along the border. These features make agriculture-related livelihoods along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border different from their non-border version.

Responses from the people living in the border areas of the West Bengal-Bangladesh border and associated, directly or indirectly, with agriculture reveal certain common issues faced by them—issues essentially related to the border. These issues have surfaced in almost all the responses of all those associated with agriculture along the length of the border.

One of the pressing issues has been the problem which the peasants face in cultivating the fenced-out lands. Due to the regulations of fencing in India(which entails the fence to be constructed at a distance of 150 yards from the ‘zero point’ of the actual border)1 , large parts of lands, some inhabited and mostly uninhabited but regularly cultivated, located between the zero point and the fencing, have been practically fenced out. This is essentially an Indian issue, since Bangladesh has not decided to fence its border yet. For the civilians2 living along the West Bengal border, the issue of being ‘fenced out’ has, over the years, become the most persistent crisis.

Implications of lands being fenced out are many. The cultivators need to get permissions, in the form of written consent from the head of the village-Panchayat3 (local government) confirming that he/she is in possession of a piece of land which has been fenced out. The cultivators then need to submit this letter along with their voter cards to the Border Security Force (BSF)4 outpost located at the entrance to the other side of the fence. A number of such gates or entrances have been constructed all along the fencing whichis managed by BSF constables. This implies that the farmers do not have easy access to their lands. They not only have to submit their voter cards and written confirmations from government heads (in some areas, they are provided with a separate agricultural card by the Panchayat heads) but also have to go through the ordeal of queuing up at the entrance every morning and then led one at a time through the gates, into their own land. Often the BSF Company Commander arrives late at the gates, delaying the process all the more. ‘If only the documents are considered sufficiently valid by them (the BSF), will they let us pass through the gates. Otherwise they do not accept them, even if it is in order’, says Rashid Hossein5 , when complaining about how the farmers live and work according to the whims of the border guards.6 Proving their identity every day in order to earn a living by working on their own fields has become integral to border life, irony being that the whole ordeal is simply to move internally, i.e. within the limits of one’s own state. The construction of the fence has changed the spatial perception of what constitutes the border, acting in a way, as a second border between two territorial locations, one, ‘inside’ the fence and the other ‘outside’ it. ‘An Indian is devoid of the freedom to move around freely here (at the borders)’, is how NarendranathGhosh puts it when explaining the irony of having to prove one’s identity when moving around in one’s own country in the border areas, let alone crossing the borders.7 The demand for shifting the fence and the BSF outposts to the zero point rings loud in most of the responses.8

There are also restrictions on the kind and amount of things which a farmer might carry to the field, like agricultural tools, seeds, cow-driven carts, cows or fertilisers. The type and number/amount of such things need to be attested as well and violation of any kind is rarely, if at all, tolerated by the BSF guards at the gates. The measures, as explained by an Intelligence officer of the BSF, are meant for preventing smuggling across the border where, he explains, the tendency to carry more than what is required and then sell it off to Bangladeshis on the other side of the fence, illegally, is rampant among the border population. BSF officials go further in implying that the basic tendency towards duplicity and illegal practices are inherent among the border population when they say that many of these people, whom one sees working beyond the field are faking it and are, in reality, smugglers who have relatives and/or contacts on the other side with whom they practice illegal trading.9

Another issue with the fenced-out land is thetheft of the crops outside the fence. This is yet another common response from the cultivators along the length of the border, who complain that incidences of theft of their crops from fenced-out lands, presumably by Bangladeshi miscreants is a regular occurrence, especially since the crops lie unattended after the gates close for the day at around six in the evening. Even when the farmers see such theft happening from inside the fence, they cannot do anything about it, since the BSF officials do not permit anyone to cross the fence once the gates are closed for the day. Complaints to the BSF officials rarely bear fruit, as the BSF officials are quick to point out that such occurrences are not under their jurisdiction since the theft is being done by foreign nationals, i.e. Bangladeshis and that too outside the fence and hence outside the realm of their control. It is interesting to see how concepts of territorial jurisdiction change nature together with the creation of a material demarcation of boundary. Officially, the land till the actual borderline or the zero point is Indian territory. The BSF, as India’s border security force, has legal powers of surveillance and necessary action till the end of the land, including the lands outside the fence. But the fence, as responses and daily chores of the civilians suggest, has re-defined such binaries as inside-outside for both the civilians as well as the border guards.

Restrictions on accessing the land are not simply limited to procedural complexities, but also in other ways as restrictions on when and how many times a cultivator can access his land. The gates open at certain times of the day: ‘half past five to nine in the morning, eleven to one in the afternoon and three to fivein the evening. After five in the evening, no one is allowed to enter his/her land, no matter the compulsion’10 . Once past the gate, the farmers cannot come back even if they need to and have to wait for the next slot of opening. Incidences of farmers falling sick during work and not being able to access a doctor, because they have been fenced out for that while, or even farmers being hit by hailstorms at work unable to run to a shelter because of being fenced out are common.11

Interestingly, recorded cases of trespassing have increased after the fencing. This does not necessarily suggest that the actual number of trespassing has increased, but only that the presence of the gates now makes the movement of people more visible and easy to locate, unlike the previous unfenced border where unhindered movement across the border often went unnoticed and hence unrecorded.12

The anxiety of being fenced out rings loud in the responses of the people who negotiate the fence every day. ‘There is a feeling of being imprisoned when we are on that side of the fence, when we cannot enter the gates even if we want to. We want the gates to be left open all day so that we can move in and out freely’,13 says Animesh. Given the confinement of the people outside the fence for about 20 hours every day, such responses make perfect sense and are indications of how the process of double-bordering affected by the fence has affected the perceptions of the farmers, like inside-outside, free-imprisoned.

It is important to keep in mind that this ordeal of negotiating border fences by the farmers is to move within their own state and not across an international border. The construction of the fence has re-defined the spatial perception of what constitutes the border, acting, in a way, as a second border between two territorial locations—the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ of the fence. ‘An Indian is devoid of the freedom to move around freely at the borders,’ is how Narendranath Ghosh expresses his anguish,14 when explaining the irony of having to prove one’s identity when moving around in one’s own country in the border areas, let alone crossing the borders. Neil Brenner’s idea of a ‘scalar structuration’15 helps us in understanding the re-interpretation of the scales of the border space by civilians as well as border guards, where the creation of the border followed by the construction of the fence has redefined the sense of inclusion-exclusion for the people who negotiate state apparatuses at the border everyday.16

The demand for shifting the fence and the BSF outposts to the ‘zero point’ rings loud in most of the responses. ‘The BSF must be posted at the zero point...they must man the actual border’,17 says Samsuddin. The phrase ‘actual border’ indicates the perceptions of double-bordering that the fence has led to.

Legal consequences of fencing: The fence violates some of the aspects of the Indian Constitution, specifically aspects of Article 19 and 21. Article 19(1) says that all citizens of India shall have the right (d) to move throughout the territory of India and (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India. The state can only make reasonable restriction of the right in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interest of any scheduled tribe [Article 19(5)]. The fence violates Article 19(1) of the Constitution by restricting the movement and settlement of people outside it, inspite of the fact that it is neither in public interest nor are the lands outside it, tribal areas (i.e. not officially designated). The issue of security cited by India as a reason for fencing does not hold good for two reasons: one, unless there is a state of emergency, martial law or war, such construction in the name of security is a violation of the fundamental rights of Indian citizens; two, even after the construction of the fence on security grounds, India is unable to prevent or even trace illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators into its territory.

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution ensures the life and personal liberty of its citizens. Yet by preventing them from pursuing livelihoods (and, hence, life), by denying the citizens their access to basic amenities and by illegally confining the citizens outside the fence for 20 hours every day, the latter is a serious violation of some of the basic rights of Indian citizens.

The Right to Property (Article 300-A) is also being violated by depriving the citizens of free access to their property outside the fence, rendering the property valueless, and also by depriving them of any compensation for such forceful devaluation of their property through the construction of the fence.

It is also interesting to note how the ‘prospect of crossing’ has its affect on the nature of cultivation along the border, in terms of the changing profile of the crops cultivated. Cannabis and poppy are grown rampantly along this border, because of the prospects of their sale across the border into Bangladesh, eventually making their way into the rest of the neighbouring countries. Poppy cultivation is illegal in West Bengal,18 though that has not stopped cultivators from growing it due to its high profitability. Out of the seven districts in West Bengal where poppy cultivation has been reported, four are border districts—Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda and South Dinajpur (the other three being Bardhaman, Hooghly and Birbhum).19 Cannabis20 production has also been on the rise in the border district of Cooch Behar because of high profits21 and, more importantly, the district’s close proximity to the ‘Siliguri Corridor’22 that caters to the neighbouring states of Bangladesh, besides Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

Brick-kilns: Illegal migrant labourers from Bangladesh

In the southern part of West Bengal, especially in the border district of North 24 Parganas, more than 400 brick-kilns23 have mushroomed over the years, given the presence of rivers in the district. There are riverine borders in these parts of West Bengal, making the area along the border conducive to the growth of brick kilns.24 The landless labourers, including a large number of migrant labourers not just from within India but also from Bangladesh (who cross the border to work in these kilns) depend largely on the seasonal occupation that these kilns provide.25 The labourers from Bangladesh are mostly illegal migrants, who cross the border without passports and start working in these kilns on a seasonal basis. The demand for cheap labour pushes the owners of these kilns to adopt ‘unofficial’ means of employing labour.

The illegal migrant labourers from Bangladesh do not find any official recognition. What they do find is a means of livelihood for on a seasonal basis. Most of these illegal migrant labourers go back to Bangladesh once the brick-making season is over. But many of them stay back and eventually mix up with the local Indian (Bengali) population to look for other avenues of livelihood.

Land ports: legal and illegal crossings

The land ports along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border provide a range of livelihood opportunities to the border population, in both legitimate and illegitimate forms. Hili (South Dinajpur, West Bengal)-Bangla Hili (Dinajpur, Bangladesh) and Pertapole (North 24 Parganas, West Bengal)-Benapole (Jessore, Bangladesh) form the two most important land ports along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, though other check posts also finction as ports or are being developed as land ports in order to reduce the load on these two existing ports.

Trading at the land ports forms the backbone of the border economy, in both its legal and illegal versions. As far as legal trading is concerned, a wide range of produce—natural and otherwise, moves between the two states of India and Bangladesh. Most of the traders are based out of cities or towns, where they have their official set up. Involvement of the locals is mostly in the form of labourers or contractors dealing with the immediacy of the transaction at site. In fact, the job of a labourer at land ports constitutes a substantial part of livelihood of the local border people.

Currency exchange counters in the port areas also depend on official border crossings and is cross-border in nature itself. These border ports, apart from trade items, also handle tourists moving between West Bengal and Bangladesh. The numerous currency-exchange counters in these ports serve these tourists in exchanging their currencies. The startling number of such counters in and around the port areas testify to the number of people involved in this business. Apart from exchanging currencies, the counters also take care of all other requirements, including transportation, accommodation. Restaurants in the land ports also survive because of the cross-border movement of people and goods, serving the tourists, traders and labourers all day.

A number of shops have mushroomed in the border port area, which thrive on these traded items. The large-scale trading across these ports also ensures that there is a considerable amount of ‘side-trading’. A portion of these traded items, find their way, unofficially into these shops, from where the local people buy the products at a cheaper rate than the market price. Products like tobacco, spices, small electronic goods, chocolates, juices usually constitute such stuff.

Fishing along the riverine border

The riverine borders between West Bengal and Bangladesh play a very important role in cross-border livelihood practices, both in legal and illegal forms. Fishing is one such legal form of livelihood on which border people from both sides of the border survive. But imperatives of the border life affect this livelihood too. The BSF harasses the fishermen on grounds of security issues. ‘BSF does not always allow us to fish in the river, due to security concerns. But ours is a poor country, and our livelihood depends a lot on fishing’26 , says a fisherman at Kaikhali, Satkhira district (Bangladesh). An overwhelming sense of life threat is present among the fishermen. ‘If someone moves a bit to the other side of the river during fishing, BSF gets hold of them and beats them up’, says one of the fishermen.27 Riverine borders are one of those areas where the borderline is almost impossible to locate. Here, the borderline runs along the river as an imaginary line—imagined at an equidistant point from either bank. It is, in fact, difficult not to violate the borderline in riverine borders, since gauging the distance to the bank from the river is far more difficult than it is from the bank.

Illegal trading

Illegal livelihood practices run parallel to, or rather in close interaction with the state machinery, represented by the fence, border outposts and border guards. Smuggling practices are born out of the creation of the border and is completely dependent on the existence of the border—an aspect that makes illegal trading in goods and people an integral characteristic of the border itself. From drugs to domestic and household necessities; from electronic goods to luxury items; from fake currency notes and SIM cards to newspapers—every conceivable item are being smuggled across the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, right under the vigilant eyes of the border guards.

Human crossings: People crossing the border illegally with the help of local agents constitute a major part of cross-border practices. There are local agents who help people cross the border illegally, without a passport.Hari, himself an agent helping Bangladeshi people to cross the border and enter India illegally, informs that smuggling of people generally take place in the dark of night. ‘Here, BSF does not fire’28 , assures Hari.Co-operation of the local population with the illegal migrants is often a reason behind the failure of the border guards or Police to track down such infiltration, says the Officer-in-Charge of Murutia Police Station. He also illuminates on possible ways of identifying illegal immigrants, like patrolling the border, gathering information from the local people and enquiring into mid-term school admissions since it is mostly these migrants who admit their children to schools in the midst of terms.29

The ‘Lineman’, as is known locally, is the person who manages the whole procedure of procuring the goods to be smuggled in accordance with the demands of the traders and ensures the safe passage of the goods across the border. He acts as the liaison between the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) in the process of the illegal cross-border movement of things.30 The Linemen appoint carriers (dhoors, as is locally known) on either side of the border and makes sure that the goods pass on smoothly from one level to the next and finally to its destination. The Linemen are often locally-known people. But complaints against them from local people are rare to come by. If fear of a threat from these linemen (and the smuggling network at large) is one factor behind the civilians being tight-lipped about them, the involvement of these very civilians in these networks is another, and often more important, factor. The local border population is all too aware of the danger of handing over the lineman to the border guards or police, since that would mean inviting a hindrance to one of their important sources of livelihood—involvement in cross-border smuggling. Most of the respondents, thus, steer clear of acknowledging their acquaintance with the local lineman at all. Moreover, the States have their own interest in letting these linemen work unhindered. The linemen contribute to an economy which is unofficial but involves huge transaction of money and hence, are rarely fired upon by the border guards. The smooth execution of the cross-border smuggling depends largely on the management skill of these linemen which make them indispensable to both the civilians as well as the border guards.31

Some policies of the concerned states, especially the ones related to travel tax, encourage these illegal border crossings. The unaffordable rates of travel tax imposed by both India and Bangladesh,32 coupled with the hazards and expenditure of obtaining passports, drive the poor local civilians into illegal ways of crossing the border by paying a much smaller amount to the brokers or dhoors. ‘Some people also cross the river along with the smuggled cattle,33 informs a witness. The co-operation of the local population with the illegal border crossers34 as well as the common language (Bangla) of the illegal crossers and the legal residents, are often the reasons for the failure of the border guards or the local police in tracking down this illegal movement.35

Illegal or unauthorised border crossing also involves the state personnel, where such officials cross the border illegally to either take stock of situations or probe into an incident or occurrence.36 ‘We knew that sneaking into Bangladesh will be a risky decision. But we were determined to know what is going on there. People who were coming here told us their tales of plight. That’s why we took the risk,’37 said an official of the Border Intelligence Corps (BIC), following reports of attacks on Hindu minorities under the Khaleda Zia government across the Bangladesh border in the Satkhira, Kaligunj and Khulna areas of Bangladesh in 2001. These acts of unauthorised border-crossing makes the border guards as much a part of the narrative of contesting the sovereign delimitations of a state as the border civilians, rendering them an integral part of the border culture.

Drug smuggling: The smuggling of drugs, especially the cough syrup called Phensidyl,38 is the most commonly known practice in this border, besides that of heroin (like Jamtala, Khalidpur in Bongaon)39 and marijuana.40 Phensidyl is manufactured by a well-known pharmaceutical company in India from where it is distributed mostly to the northeastern parts of India and West Bengal.41 ‘In addition, empty Phensidyl bottles are refilled with higher narcotic content, repackaged as “Phensidyl Plus” and smuggled back into Bangladesh,’42 where they are acquired by addicts at a cheap price (the price for a 100ml bottle of smuggled Phensidyl in Bangladesh amounts to Tk.50043 and is acquired in India for Rs. 150,44 though the official market price for a 100ml Phensidyl bottle in India is Rs.75 and Rs.40.78 for a 50ml bottle).45

Heroin has been mostly repoas sourced from the ‘Golden Crescent’,46 through India into Bangladesh.47 Along the stretch of the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, the Benapole-Petrapole, Hili-Bangla Hili and Gede-Darshana borders are the most prone to drug-trafficking.48 Other informal and small-scale drug-trafficking routes along this stretch include Phulbari-Banglabandhu, Changrabandha-Burimari, South Gitaldaha-Mogolhat, Raiganj-Ranipukur, Bagdha-Ansolia, Krishnanagar-Jadabpur, and Bashirhat-Bhomra.49 The smuggling of heroin as well as other drugs is executed through conceivable and inconceivable ways, within tool boxes of bullock carts, the folds of women’s sarees, underground canals (built to drain excess rain water) and boats,50 besides trucks carrying agricultural products, fabrics and, as a journalist in a local newspaper in Dinajpur informed me, even hidden inside the death-beds of corpses taken for cremation or burial.51 Smuggling through underground canals is difficult to trace since it is easy to mistake the act of smuggling for routine agricultural practices such as draining water from the fields by farmers. It is only below the culverts that such acts of smuggling can be traced visibly.52

Cattle smuggling: Cattle smuggling also forms an important cross border livelihood practice. Cattle smuggling is as much an international trade as are drug smuggling networks, not just because it is executed across an international border, but also because the chunk of the cattle is procured from the western and northern states of India, which are predominantly Hindu, and thus non beef-eating belts and are smuggled across the West Bengal border to meet the demands of the beef-consumers of the Muslim-majority Bangladesh. The cattle, consisting essentially of cows and ox, travel all the way from as far as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan and as near as Bihar, Orissa to West Bengal in trucks, numbering thousands each day. They are stocked in herds at strategic locations near the border, mostly the unfenced parts of the border, from where they are made to cross the border with the help of a Lineman (who are often the traders themselves). Anything between 5000 and 15,000 cows cross everyday.53 ‘A single cow earns the smuggler Tk. 1500 (US $20), BGB Tk. 500 (US $7), and the BSF Rs. 500 (US $8). Earlier the Bangladeshis would have to move into the Indian side of the border and bring the cattle. But now, with the help of the BSF, the Indians themselves bring the cattle to a certain point across the border. The BSF officials do not, otherwise say anything, except for rare cases of seizing a couple of cows just to show that that they are doing their job honestly’, says Md.Ismail.54 Asif(a cattle smuggler himself) informs that he has a ‘contractual’ cattle smuggling business with one Haji Saheb on the other side of the border, indicating the regularity of the trade. ‘People from this side go to that side to buy beef at Rs.80 (US $1) per kilogram, because it is costlier on this side at Tk. 250 (US $3). We have acquiantances on that side who fetch the beef for us. It is easier to acquire beef from that side instead of Satkhira town’55 , says a civilian in Kaikhali border area in Satkhira (Bangladesh). The immense meat consumption industry in Bangladesh keeps the demand for cattle high, pointing to the role that economics plays in this smuggling network.‘The industry is worth thousands of crores of rupees in Bangladesh’56 , said a BSF officer who has served on the India-Bangladesh border. The ‘official’ number of smuggled cattle amount to around 7,00000 every year—clearly pointing to a much higher number if the successfully smuggled lot is taken into the count.57 The border markets, or haats (local term for markets) are located on the corresponding side of the Bangladeshborder where the cattle are stocked immediately after crossing the border. Traders come from all over Bangladesh to deal in cattle. 58Each of these wholesale markets witness dealings worth a few thousands each day, adding up to huge transactions for both the states of India and Bangladesh. Though cattle-trading of this sort is not officially recognised in any of the states involved, it has attained a semi-official status given the regularity, expanse and transaction amount of the trade.Asif highlights on the mentality of the cattle smugglers with regards to the idea of legality of their trade: ‘Those who smuggle cattle generally do not indulge in smuggling other things, because they share a good rapport with the BGB and, understandably, do not want to ruin that rapport by smuggling other things. Cattle smuggling is not a crime to them, while smuggling Phensidyl is, any day, a far more harmful act. That is immoral. Cattle smuggling is as much a part of legal business as is any other legally traded item.’59 This explains why the wholesale cattle haats are often found to be located right in front of a BSF or BGB camp.

Smuggling of cattle, like drugs, involves a high risk process, where the smuggler leads the herd across the border on to the corresponding lineman on the other side. Not every official of the border guards are as co-operative or even sympathetic towards these smugglers, which means that instances of being shot or at least being beaten up by the border guards while attempting to smuggle the cattle across is not rare.Newspaper reports of gun-battle between border guards and alleged cattle-smuggler are common where the cattle-smuggler has been shot by the border guards in an attempt to prevent him from doing his ‘duty’ or where the border guards has fired back in an act of self-defence on being attacked by the smuggler.

Cattle smuggling across riverine borders are a high-risk job, involving swimming across the river with four cows at a time by one person.60 Risk of apprehension followed by brutal punishment is not absent, as not are cases which prove occurrences of such arrests. Instances of border guards hitting the smugglers with their speeding boats while still in the water, brutally injuring many of them if not drowning them altogether is not rare.61 But the prospect of earning fast cash attracts people to such cross-border smuggling activities.

Despite such risks, the existence of widespread and visible cross-border smuggling indicates the involvement of the border guards, on both sides of the border, in these practices. The heads of these trading networks, the agents who manage the process and the carriers of the products are generally seen to share a cordiality with the border guards which helps them keep track of the suitable times and places for operating.62 The border guards, as representatives of the state machinery, become part of the cross-border culture by allowing for the bending of those border laws which they are embodied representations at the borders. Even in attempts to prevent smuggling by the border guards, the available surveillance mechanisms often fail to deliver. Natural environmental conditions, like foggy days or dark nights make surveillance more difficult for the jawans on-duty, informs the Company Commander of Asharidoho camp in Murshidabad.63 Moreover, use of advanced technological instruments to locate smugglers by the border guards also instigates the smugglers to innovate new ways of operating.64

The construction of the fence has had a major role in the evolution of smuggling practices along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. Items which moved across the border unhindered and as a continuation of traditional trading networks suddenly began attracting attention after the construction of the fence. The physicality of the border, in the form of the fence, redefined the historic movement of things in a new light, labelling such movements as ‘illegal’. Trade did not stop—it simply became ‘illegal’.65 While this is true that illegal trading, small or big, has almost become synonymous with border life, it will be wrong to conclude that every person who dwells near the border is a professional and well-networked smuggler. For most of them, practices of carrying a few grams of spice or a few steel utensils across the border is simply a means to earn quick cash (enough for a few days ration), especially during lean periods of agriculture.66 Most of them are not too aware or clear about the illegality of the whole process and are often not ready to acknowledge the same when made aware of the fact. ‘This is our job and is like any other job that people do. We don’t think there is anything wrong with it’, comes a confident response from one such woman who, along with her whole family, survives on cross-border smuggling practices.67

Firearms: The smuggling of firearms is not uncommon along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, with the border guards themselves confessing such occurences. ‘Firearms are mostly smuggled in along with the cattle, especially in the Putkhali border area,’68 confesses a BGB official at Benapole. The North Dinajpur district is also an important transit for firearm-smuggling networks between West Bengal and Bangladesh, as reports of the seizure of firearms are not rare in the area.69 In fact, reports hint at an increasing number of firearm smugglers operating in various pockets of the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, including the districts of Kushtia, Jhenaidah, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Satkhira and Jessore on the Bangladesh side, and the adjoining districts of Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas on the West Bengal side.70 Reports confirm the confession of the border guards that firearms are often smuggled in consignments of fruits, eggs, rice, vegetables and other items of daily need, which mostly go unchecked by them. ‘Good relations’ between the border guards and the smugglers is often the reason cited for such exemptions.

FICN and coins: The smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) has increasingly become rampant across the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, especially with the flourishing of cattle trade. Cattle traders are often paid in fake currencies (cattle worth Rs. 4,000 is paid for by Rs. 10,000 worth fake currencies by the Bangladeshi smuggler), which is then circulated in India.71 Fake currency notes worth thousands are often reported to be seized from smugglers, while thousands of them are successfully distributed across the states in innumerable markets and shops.72 Farmers crossing the fence for cultivating their farmlands outside it are often seen to be involved in smuggling fake currencies.73 The nexus between FICN, firearms and terrorist organisations is, increasingly, becoming a matter of concern for both India and Bangladesh.74

Currency coins (known as Rejki in smuggling lingo), adding up to thousands have recently been reported as being smuggled across the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. The process involves procuring currency coins from across West Bengal and smuggling them across the border into Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, these coins are made into metal blades. Local foundaries or ferro-alloy factories along the West Bengal border also melt coins into metal sheets before smuggling them to Bangladesh. Re. 1, Rs. 2 and Rs. 5 coins are mostly used for the purpose. Metal smuggling in the form of coins has been the recent addition to the already vast range of cross-border smuggling practices along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border.

Items of daily necessities: Besides the riskier and more expansive trading in drugs, cattle, firearms or fake currencies, the people living along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border survive on smuggling items of daily necessity, from a few litres of petrol/diesel to a few kilograms of spices, vegetables and eggs75 to a few utensils, electronic items, clothing, tools, audio-visual disks and so on. The seasonal nature of agriculture, coupled with the fluctuating prices of crops, ensures a steady demand for such items. Newspapers are smuggled across the border despite the availability of both locally-published as well as national newspapers along the whole length of the West Bengal-Bangladesh border.

The nature of the smuggled items indicates that cross-border smuggling is not always necessarily linked to global smuggling networks, as some studies on such practices indicate. They show instead that such cross-border practices become rudimentary ways of living and earning for the people living along the border. The border people learn to put the reality of the border to the best of their interest, irrespective of its legal/illegal nature. Over the years, smuggling practices come to be seen as an integral part of livelihood practice along the border.76

The construction of the fence has, in fact, played an important role in the labelling of certain practices as ‘illegal’ in official terms. Even after the creation of the border in 1947, the unhindered movement of people and items between West Bengal and Bangladesh existed without being officially illegalised. The construction of the fence has made such movements visible and, thus, officially illegal.77

Plans for border markets

An interesting aspect of the ‘crossing’ issue along the border has been, in recent years, the official plans from the states involved, to organise border markets where people could trade with legal documents, so as to curb the illegal cross-border tradebetween India and Bangladesh. These plans are the states’ ways to legalise such crossings which have been rendered illegal by the states themselves through the increased stringency of the borders. Many senior officials among the border guards admit the prospect and necessity for the legalisation of haats, especially the cattle haats. ‘We all have to think about it seriously. It is not a problem that can be solved by policing,’ says a BSF official.78 In fact, the BSF has been sending proposals for such ‘open haats’ along the border to the government of India, confirmed the BSF IG of the Malda frontier.79 The use of the word ‘open’, interestingly, stands in contradiction to the idea of the border as a closed ‘container’ as envisioned by the state. It also highlights the failure of state policing and regulations in gauging or negotiating the uniqueness of the border, as admitted by the border guards themselves.

The propect of meeting relatives and friends from across the border is also evident in the responses of the civilians,80 besides that of being able to trade without fear. The way the existing border haats flourish during festivities, such as Durga Puja and Eid, stands proof of their prospects once properly organised. Many of these haats were in existence much before the creation of the border but have lost much of their glory and significance after the partition.81 The ones which still function are plagued by illegal transactions. Thus, haats are a natural culmination of not just the exchange of various products across the border but also of cross-border cultural ties that the border people on both sides share, besides having great potential for contributing towards the economies of both India and Bangladesh. Traditional haats, which have been de-legitimised by the state-building agendas of India and Bangladesh, need to be re-legitimised for the people along the border to live and earn without fear.


Visibility of a territory depends on the mobility of the population. Existence of the territory only becomes clear when people move beyond the limited boundaries of that territory. Borders, in spite of being cartographically marked lines, become manifest through certain activities and mobility across the borderline. Mobility as an index of understanding borders is rarely taken into consideration when studying the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. The binary of static territory and mobility would yield more significant understanding of the various border activities. The creation of interesting notions about such binaries as ‘in-out’ or ‘imprisoned-free’ among the border dwellers, resulting from the construction of the fence points towards the necessity of such an understanding. Legality and jurisdictional complications associated with the border and the fence clash with people’s perception of their own mobility indices. Traditional perceptions about movement come into conflict with border regulations, rendering cross-border movements and activities as illegal.82

Violation of human rights, in terms of restrcitions on movements of the people across the fence or the violence perpetrated by the border guards on the border people, irrespective of their involvement in illegal trades, is a common phenomenon. From the perspectives of the border people, such practices are their reality. Using the border to their own interest, especially livelihood interest, is a spontaneous innovation on their parts. This explains why most of the people, involved in illegal cross-border practices do not acknowledge the ‘illegality’ of their practices. Violence by the border guards is, for the border people, state’s attempt to impose something as abstract as ‘territorial sanctity’. The issue of governability of physical spaces, and especially a sensitised physical space as the border, attains diverse meanings in the process.

Differing perceptions of the border guards and the civilians about the limits and consequences of cross-border mobility makes Van Schendel’s understanding of the three levels of ‘scale’ relevant: scales-we-almost-lost, indicating a pre-border web of relations that has weakened but not vanished; state-scale, indicating the web of relations that the state created through the creation of the border; and border-induced scales, indicating the web of relations created by the border itself.83 The study of various aspects of livelihood practices along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border gives us a fair idea about the various patterns of livelihood practices which have been affected and created by it. Disruption of traditional livelihoods, the officially-recognised livelihoods created by the border (not dealt with in detail in this article) and the co-lateral (mostly illegal) livelihoods created by it becomes clear in the light of Van Schendel’s framework of scales.

Governance of the border area through regulatory mechanisms is the state’s reality when it comes to maintaining territorial sanctity. Surviving the border and surviving on the border constitute the reality of the border civilians. Involvement of the border guards, as embodied representations of the state, in cross-border practices of the civilian indicates a subversion of the state’s reality. The materiality of the borderland subsumes its protectors and violators alike in creating a unique spatial consciousness—a border consciousness. Border consciousness is characterised by the omnipresence of the reality of the border in the perceptions and activities of the people who negotiate the border in their daily lives. Daily crossings and/or restrictions on crossings along the border produce border narratives, which over years of occurrence, crytalise into a pattern of consciousness, i.e. the border consciousness.The common people as well as the border guards get enmeshed in this border consciousness, contributing in their own way, to redefining and often subverting statist definitions of regulation, legality and illegality. Understanding such subversions is the first step towards a better understanding of border consciousness andborderlands at large.


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*Debdatta Chowdhury has done a PhD in Law from the University of Westminster London in socio-legal border narratives along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border in 2014. Her current interests include border studies, governance and citizenship studies, gender studies.
1 According to agreements between India and Bangladesh, permanent construction within 150 yards of the zero point or the actual line of border on both sides of the India-Bangladesh border has been prohibited. When India decided to fence its border, the barbed fence had to be constructed 150 yards away from the zero point, i.e. 150 yards into the mainland from the borderline. This implies that the land between the zero point and the fence fell outside the fencing, in spite of the fact that the lands are officially Indian territories. This also implied that people living and/or cultivating in those fenced-out lands , henceforth required to use the gates built along the fences at regular intervals to move between the land inside the fence and that outside the fence.
2 The people who live at the border areas, i.e. those common people who are not the official border guards or who do not belong to the police/military force in any way are generally called ‘civilians’. This term has become part of the everyday vocabulary of both the civilians themselves as well as the border guards all along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border
3 Gram Panchayats and its counterpart in Bangladesh-the Union Parishad, are the local self-government units at the village and small-town levels. They consist of a head (Pradhan for Panchayats; Chairman for Parishads) and elected members from the area, representing a block/village/ward as the case may be.
4 The Border Security Force (BSF) is a wing of the Central Armed Police Forces of the Government of India, formed exclusively for guarding India’s international borders. The BSF is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, India.
5 Interview with Rashid Hossein, resident of Lalgola (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 8 November 2011).
6 Names of all my interviewees have been changed to protect their identities.
7 Interview with NarendranathGhosh, resident of Karimpur (Nadia district of West Bengal, 24 October 2011).
8Interview with SamsuddinMondon, resident of Jalangi (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 22 October 2011).
9 Interview with a BSF official at Asharidoho BSF camp (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 9 November 2011).
10 Interview with ImtiazMondol, resident of Mathurapur village (Nadia district of West Bengal, 22 October 2011).
11 Interview with Rashid Hossein, resident of Lalgola (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 8 November 2011).
12 Interview with Zia-ulHaq, resident of Dinajpur Town (Dinajpur district of Bangladesh, 8 October 2011).
13 Interview with Animesh, resident and farmer at Bindol (North Dinajpur district of West Bengal, 26 January 2012).
14 Interview with Narendranath Ghosh, resident of Karimpur (Nadia district of West Bengal, 24 October 2011).
15 Brenner, N. (2001) The limits to scale? Methodological reflections on scalar structuration. Progress in Human Geography. 25(4). p.592.
16 Scalar structuration as a socio-spatial process includes the convergence of varying, often conflicting scales of spatial perception by the various actors. In the case of the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, the various scalar structurations perceived by the civilians and the border guards converge over the space of the border, resulting in a complex pattern or mosaic of spatial identities.
17 Interview with SamsuddinMondol, resident of Nowadpur village, Jalangi (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 22 October 2011).
18 In India, only in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan can poppy be cultivated legally, according to the regulations of the Central Bureau of Narcotics.
19 De Sarkar, S. (1 October 2012) Postochashrukhteyebar SMS-e pulishiprochar. Ananda Bazar Patrika. [Online] Available from: http://www.anandabazar.com/archive/1121001/1raj1.html. [Last accessed: 27 July 2013].
20 Cannabis is a genus of flowering plant and is grown mostly in Central and South Asia. Though traditionally used for fibre, oil, medicinal purposes and recreational drug, the dried flowers are also widely used to make marijuana—a narcotic, while extracts of cannabis are used for making hashish—yet another narcotic, and hash oil.
21 15,000 square feet of cannabis production gives a return of about Rs.5,00000. Sarkar, D. (15 June 2012) Cultivation of illegal cannabis flourishing in Coochbehar. The Economic Times. [Online] Available from: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-06-15/news/32254673_1_cannabis-kitchen-garden-coochbehar-district. [Last accessed: 27 July 2013].
22 The Siliguri Corridor or Chicken's Neck has its origin in the partition of India in 1947 and is a narrow stretch of land that connects India's north-eastern provinces to the rest of India, with the countries of Nepal and Bangladesh lying on either side of the corridor. The kingdom of Bhutan lies on the northern side of the corridor. The city of Siliguri in the state of West Bengal is the major city in this area. The city is the central node that connects Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, the Darjeeling hills, north-east India and the rest of India. Apart from being the hotbed of illegal infiltration, this stretch of land has also become an important corridor for narcotics and weapon trafficking.
23 Cheruveri, S., ‘Changing lives in the brick kilns of West Bengal’, Report for UNICEF India, 2006.
24 The sand deposition left by the rivers on its banks act as raw materials for the brick kiln industries , and hence these kilns are seen to develop along the banks of rivers.
25 Cheruveri, S., ‘Changing lives in the brick kilns of West Bengal’, Report for UNICEF India, 2006.
26 Interview with a fisherman at Kaikhali border (Satkhira district of Bangladesh, 14 February 2012).
27 Interview with a fisherman at Dhuliani border (Jessore district of Bangladesh, 16 February 2012).
28 Interview with Hari, resident of Kaikhali border (Satkhira district of Bangladesh, 14 February 2012).
29 Interview with the Officer-in-Charge of Murutia Police Station (Nadia district of West Bengal, 22 October 2011).
30 Interview with Zia-ulHaq, resident of Dinajpur Town (Dinajpur district of Bangladesh, 8 October 2011).
31 Interview with a journalist at Dinajpur town (Dinajpur district of Bangladesh, 9 October 2011).
32 Momin, S.M. (7 September 2003) Illegal border crossing-Benapole style. The Independent.
33 Interview with Niru, resident of Durmukhhali village, Shyamnagar (Satkhira district of Bangladesh, 14 February 2012).
34 Interview with BiplabGanguly (original name), Officer-in-Charge of Murutia Police Station (Nadia district of West Bengal, 22 October 2011).
35 Interview with a BSF official at Asharidoho BSF camp, (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 9 November 2011).
36 Staff Reporter (2 November 2001) Border-cross for influx insight. The Telegraph. [Online] Available from: http://www.telegraphindia.com/archives/archive.html. [Last accessed: 30 August 2013].
37 Ibid.
38 Phensidyl is a cough linctus, a liquid preparation like syrup which contains glucose in high concentration for better taste. One of its main ingredients includes codeine phosphate-mostly used as a painkiller and cough suppressant. Phensidyl is often used as a recreational narcotic and/or antidepressant, due to the higher proportion of codeine phosphate in it, as compared to other cough syrups. This is why many people in India, Nepal and Bangladesh are addicted to it. The syrup is illegal in Bangladesh but not in India, as a result of which Phensidyl is smuggled from India to Bangladesh. Myanmar is the only other place besides India where Phensidyl is produced.
39 Interview with Ujjal Ghosh, resident of Petrapole border area (North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, 20 September 2011).
40 Das, P. (2012) Drug Trafficking in India: A Case for Border Security. IDSA Occasional Paper No.24.New Delhi: Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis. pp.30.
41 Ibid.
42 Jain, S. K. (2006) The spurious drug menace and remedy. Health Administrator. Vol.XIX(1). p. 33, as quoted in Das, 2012, pp.30-31.
43 Interview with a BGB official at Goga BGB camp, Agro-Bhulot (Jessore district of Bangladesh, 15 February 2012).
44 Interview with Bijon, a journalist with a Bengali daily at Jessore town (Jessore district of Bangladesh, 16 February 2012).
45 Information given by a pharmacist in a pharmaceutical shop in Kolkata, October 2012.
46 ‘Golden Crescent’ is the name given to one of Asia's two principal areas of illicit opium production (the other being the ‘Golden Triangle’), located at the crossroads of Central, South and Western Asia. This space overlaps three nations—Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent, though only Afghanistan and Pakistan produce opium, with Iran being a consumer and trans-shipment route for the smuggled opiates. In 1991, Afghanistan became the world's primary opium producer. It now produces over 90% of the world's non-pharmaceutical-grade opium, besides being the world's largest producer of hashish.
47 Das, 2012, p.32.
48 Das, 2012, p.33.
49 Ibid., p.33-34.
50 Interview with a BSF official at Ramnagar BSF camp (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 9 November 2011).
51 Interview with Bijon, a journalist with a Bengali daily in Dinajpur town (Dinajpur district of Bangladesh, 5 October 2011).
52 Biswas, G. and Sujauddin (7 January 2013) Sheetershimanteybarchhepachar. Ananda Bazar Patrika. [Online] Available from: http://www.anandabazar.com/archive/1130107/7mur1.html. [Last accessed: 30 July 2013].
53 Interview with a cattle trader at Putkhali village, Sharsha border (Jessore district of Bangladesh, 15 February 2012).
54 Interview with Md. Ismail, resident of Matila village, Maheshpur (Jhinaidah district of Bangladesh, 11 February 2012).
55 Interview with Asif, resident of Kaikhali village, Shyamnagar (Satkhira district of Bangladesh, 14 February 2012).
56 Tiwary, D.,‘Legalise cattle smuggling on Bangladesh border: BSF chief’,The Times of India, 1 December 2012.
57 Tiwary, D., ‘Legalise cattle smuggling on Bangladesh border: BSF chief’, The Times of India, 1 December 2012.
58 Interview with a cattle trader at Putkhali village, Sharsha border (Jessore district of Bangladesh, 15 February 2012).
59 Interview with Asif, resident of Kaikhali village, Shyamnagar (Satkhira district of Bangladesh, 14 February 2012).
60 Interview with Javed, resident of Khanjiya village, Debhata (Satkhira district of Bangladesh, 12 February 2012).
61 Interview with a male resident at Debhata border (Satkhira district of Bangladesh, 12 February 2012).
62 Interview with ParbatiMohanto, resident of Ghunapara-Dhumron village (South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, 25 January 2012).
63 Interview with a Company Commander of Asharidoho BSF camp (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 9 November 2011).
64 Interview with a Company Commander of Asharidoho BSF camp (Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 9 November 2011).
65 Van Schendel, Willem, and Abraham, Itty (eds.), Illicit Flows and Criminal Things: States, Borders, and the Other Side of Globalization, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.
66 Interview with ParbatiMohanto, resident of Ghunapara-Dhumron village (South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, 25 January 2012).
67 Interview with ParbatiMohanto, resident of Ghunapara-Dhumron village (South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, 25 January 2012).
68 Interview with a BGB official at Benapole BGB camp (Jessore district of Bangladesh, 15 February 2012).
69 Staff Reporter (30 May 2012) Agneyastroshohodhrito. Ananda Bazar Patrika. [Online] Available from: http://www.anandabazar.com/archive/1120530/30uttar6.html. [Last accessed: 31 July 2013].
70 Staff Reporter (11 September 2013) CPM-ershabhapatikhuneytaptaHasnabad. Ananda Bazar Patrika. [Online] Available from: http://www.anandabazar.com/11pgn2.html. [Last accessed: 11 September 2013].
71 Bhattacharjee, J. (July 2013) India-Bangladesh Border Management: The Challenge of Cattle Smuggling. Special Report, Observer Research Foundation. Issue 1. p.4.
72 Staff Reporter (1 October 2012) Gorupacharerhaatdhorejaalnoteramdanieparey. Ananda Bazar Patrika. [Online] Available from: http://www.anandabazar.com/archive/1121001/1bdesh1.html. [Last accessed: 31 July 2013]; FICN worth Rs. 1,00000 have been seized from Mohangunj on 26 October 2012 by the 130 battalion of the South Bengal Frontier of BSF. BagherGarjan (October-December 2012). 26; FICN worth Rs.9,00,000 have been seized by the BSF on the Malda border on 24 August 2013. Tiwary, D. (25 August 2013) FICN seized. The Times of India. [Online] Available from: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/FICN-seized/speednewsbytopic/keyid-881955.cms. [Last accessed: 7 September 2013]; FICN worth Rs.10,00000 have been seized by the 125 battalion of BSF in Malda on 3 September 2013. IBNS (4 September 2013) Fake Indian Currency Notes worth Rs 10 lakhs seized by BSF. NewsWala. [Online] Available from: http://www.newswala.com/India-National-News/Fake-Indian-Currency-Notes-worth-Rs-10-lakhs-seized-by-BSF-45911.html. [Last accessed: 7 September 2013].
73 Staff Reporter, 1 October 2012, Ananda Bazar Patrika.
74 Ghosh, S. and Monata, A.R. (26 January 2010) Jaal note jangi jog astrabyabsha, jaal e Hili r school sikshak. Ananda Bazar Patrika. [Online] Available from: http://www.anandabazar.com/archive/1100126/26raj1.htm. [Last accessed: 17 September 2013].
75 Interview with JasimuddinMondol, resident of Mathurapur village (Nadia district of West Bengal, 22 October 2011).
76 Interview with Ranjit, resident of Jamalpur village, Hili (South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, 24 January 2012).
77 Interview with HirakKantiMunshi, resident of Balurghat (South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, 24 January 2012).
78 Tiwary, D. (1 December 2012) Legalise cattle smuggling on Bangladesh border: BSF chief. The Times of India. [Online] Available from: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-12-01/india/35530471_1_bsf-men-bangladesh-border-indo-bangla-border. [Last accessed: 1 August 2013].
79 Staff Reporter (29 December 2012) Chorachalanthekateyshimantey ‘haat’ toiri. Ananda Bazar Patrika. [Online] Available from: http://www.anandabazar.com/archive/1121229/29uttar3.html. [Last accessed: 1 August 2013].
80 Interview with BanchharamMondol, resident and ex-Panchayat head of Mathurapur village (Nadia district of West Bengal, 22 October 2011).
81 Staff Reporter (4 October 2012) Utsav-e jomeyuthechheyshimanterhaat. Ananda Bazar Patrika. [Online] Available from: http://www.anandabazar.com/archive/1121004/4mur2.html. [Last accessed: 1 August 2013].
82 Van Schendel, Willem, and Abraham, Itty (eds.), Illicit Flows and Criminal Things: States, Borders, and the Other Side of Globalization, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.
83 Van Schendel, W. (2005) The Bengal Borderland: Beyond State and Nation in South Asia. London: Anthem. pp.375.