Friday, December 14, 2012

Sarahadh ko Pranam

November 2012

The land of hills, Mizoram shares two international borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar. Do not ask for a sight seeing spot in Mizoram because anywhere you stand, you get to enjoy dense green hills and a chill breeze. A liquor banned state with close to 11 lakhs population and 91% literacy, Mizoram is one of the seven sister states of India. 

We, a group of eight visited five villages across India – Bangladesh borders at South west of Mizoram; with about 50 houses/huts in each village and a BSF post. Three trains, cars and a boat is what you need to take to reach this village. You do not have a reservation or you have a reservation of the berth or you do not have a ticket at all – do not worry, just get into the train and travel for 3000 kms is my take away from this journey.. Long tunnels, beautiful sunsets, green fields and many rivers is what you get to enjoy, that only your heart can capture and say 'Bharath Mata ki Jai'

A continuous 5 days of strenuous journey from Bangalore to reach Tablabag and this is what a common man can afford. Even if you are blessed with too much of money, you cannot avoid a 12 hours of minimum journey on road just to cover 276 kms, the last lap from the nearest airport.

The beauty of Sangh is better understood by non swayamsevaks I should say. We had few non-sangh or rather 'new to sangh' people in our group. They were surprised and very happy to see people waiting for us at different stations, welcoming us with food, ensuring our safety and thanking us for being there. These swayamsevaks who had traveled a certain distance to stations at odd hours to welcome us touched the hearts of these new comers to sangh family. We take our fellow Swayamsevaks for granted I guess or we are very used to such humbleness and never appreciate any effort and love :)

Mizo tribes are a dominant group at Mizoram. The five villages we visited at the borders are Chakmas, a minority tribe of Mizoram who are mostly Buddhists and a few recently converted Christians. The statistics above is self explanatory to you all about the efforts of Christian missionaries.. One highlight of the trip is 'We were approached by a Baptist Church group at midnight 1 while we were travelling on state highway.' You definitely know the result of asking a Swayamsevak to get converted and the same thing happened here :) . It was then, our sumo driver Mohamad Azar revealed to us about the 1 lakh offer his friend got to follow Jesus at the capital of Mizoram, Aizawl.

We got an appointment with the director of NIT, Silchur in Assam. His words were are not very encouraging because the word development comes along with threats in NE. His efforts to get good schools and IT skill centers ended with threatening calls from Indian Mujhahideen. He was shocked to hear that we travelled by Road from Guwahti to Silchur. Keep in mind, Bangalore roads are heaven after travelling in NE roads.

'Samparka' never ends be it Bangalore or Mizoram :). We visited few schools, many houses in the villages to understand their living which is the same as any remote village in Karnataka. But being in borders, seeing jawans and rifles is a common sight to them. We feel 'Fencing' is a solution to the infiltration problem; Later I realised that it is not an ideal solution.. Why? there are many reasons:

1. Rusted fence will definitely fall down the years. They are not maintained.

2. We have 2 jawans for every kilometer. Is it possible to keep a vigil 24/7? There are no technologies to alert us when somebody cuts the fence.

3. Our villages does not have electricity all the time. Hence the same with Fence. Do not expect any shock treatments when you touch it.

4. How do you feel if there is a fencing between Jayanagar and Basavanagudi when you have your office on the other side, when you have your relatives on the other side? Same is the feeling of the Chakma tribes. They have there lands on the other side of border and crops is their primary occupation. They have their fellow chamkas on the other side and those people realised very late after partition that they were in a separate country called Bangladesh.

Vande Mataram, Bharath Mata ki Jai filled the skies on the banks of Karnaphuli river that separates India and Bangladesh. A Human Chain of 400 people including jawans, villagers and our team was a sight never to be missed in life. A 100% contrast item was a 2 year child and 85 year old ajji participating in the chain.

We could ourself see that getting into India is not at a big deal at all at these places. Who ever gets in can also easily get any thing - be it narcotic drugs or fake currencies. Is our Army not competent to handle such infiltration and smuggling? BSF answers NO. Their hands are tied up, with no powers to attack any suspicious activities. It is clearly lack of political will is what I could understand. Also it is political pressure to allow illegal immigrants and as a result you can meet people with voter ID of both India and neighboring country.

My few other observations:
It is women who works both at field and house. Male spends most of his day with cards. Even in the market at Aizawl, I could see only women in shops and hotels. At the beginning, I made a point that liquor is banned in Mizoram which only implies that you need to pay a lot more money to get smuggled alcohol. A good thing that I noticed is there are public toilets everywhere and they are clean too.

The nearest market for these villagers is 2 hours Bangladesh way and 4 hours in India. A nearest equipped hospital is 6 hours inside India. Where should they go?

It is more than 15 days since returning from my 15 days travel to North Eastern states of India. I might have missed few points and will try and add them as soon as I recall.