Friday, 3 December 2010

A trip to TAKI, West Bengal , India

                                  As Bangldesh looks on the bank of Ichamoti, from TAKI, West Bengal.Take a closed look, a cattle corpse is floating on the river bed, near the Bangladeshi bank. Victim of transborder cattle smuggling.

I am not sure how young generation would react to the name of yester year’s one of the most popular writer portraying the essence of rural Bengal, its pains and joys, prosperity and poverty and off course the thread of society; Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay. His simplicity was eminent in is writing; that was best projected by famous film director Satyojit Roy in his internationally acclaimed films like ‘Pother Panchali’, ‘Aparajito’ et el.  At the age of 9, I read ‘Pother Panchali’. Though I was not matured, enough to comprehend its intrinsic message of the content but the very story left a pugmark in my mind. I became more interested about the author later. The river ‘Ichamoti’ ; again and again surfaced in his rendition; so in my mind. I always cherished the idea to see the river. It was just yesterday on 28th November of 2010 finally I could make it.

I went in company of my spouse and joined by my elder brother and his wife. We started from Kolkata at 8 A.M by car on road and headed for “TAKI’, a border town in the bank of river ‘Ichamoti’. The route we took is old one; we went through ‘Jessore Road’ up to district town ‘Barasat; and form there we took ‘Taki road’ leading to TAKI. The road passed through congested areas, covering on its way several villages and smaller towns like ‘De Ganga’, ‘Basirhat’. We could reach Taki at around 11.50 A.M. However, though the journey was time consuming but not tiring. Reaching Taki, first we went to a Municipal Guest House to book our lunches, as there seemed no eatery around. The price was reasonable; rather cheap. The Guest House is located with few others on the bank of river ‘Ichamoti’. The sight of the river from the balcony of the Guest House is very vivid and on the other side of the river lay Bangladesh’s Satkhira district. Cyril Radcliff, the Surveyor General of Queen drew the line through this river between India and Pakistan (now Bangladesh) way back in 1947, without considering how it would affect the people on both sides of such river-based border. I was thinking how painful it was for lovers in Indian side of border who had their beloved on the other side of the river! One find morning they came to know that they were from different nations; without passport or Visa they can not meet at any rendezvous! 

Visiting Taki remains incomplete without its site-seeing program on ‘Van Rikshaw’. On the Guest House itself we met a friendly Van Rikshaw owner who took our charge. On the riverbank lay narrow concrete pathway, broad enough for a car or van rikshaw but seemed risky when they cross each other. The riverside is fenced with barbed wire; put up by Border Security Force personal in their futile efforts to check cross border smugglings or illegal trades. We gathered from our Van Rikshaw puller cum guide, smugglings of cattle across the river ( to Bangladesh) is a regular phenomena. In fact, we found the sign of recent repairs of damaged barbed wire at several points. Somewhere on the bank, two Security personals were sitting idly, keeping their rifle ajar on a wall and gossiping. Their real vigil starts after dusk.  I found few corpses of cattle floating on the river. Our guide added some cattle die while crossing the river during high tide or due to their weak lungs. The beef price in Bangladesh is around Rs250/- pre Kg, the same across the river in Taki costs around Rs80/-, reasoned out our guide for livestock smuggling. The porous border in this part of West Bengal could never stop smuggling of livestocks or any goods. Practically it seemed impossible to plug this border to stop cross border trades or smuggling of human and livestock.

Anyway unlike other smaller towns in West Bengal; Taki seemed to have a strong Municipal Body as their activities were evident every where. Roads, parks, lightings are well maintained. The Taki Municipality runs few guesthouses and a old age home. The river facing old age home looked attractive to me. I thought with a secure birth at such old-age- home one can coolly look forward to old age!

                  A hut on Bangladesh soil on the bank of 'Ichamoti' river. 

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