Thursday, 9 December, 2021
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Rail link to cut time

Rail link to cut time

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After three quarters of a century the clock is turning back, reversing many evils of the Partition of Bengal of 1905, followed by the Partition of 1947, when a common people was divided by the exploitative policies of a foreign colonial power. Rail connectivity between Dhaka and Jalpaiguri will ease travel woes of the people of West Bengal and Bangladesh, who share a common language, culture, traditions, heritage and history.

The Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura, contiguous with the international borders running between Bangladesh and India, have a lot in common with the adjacent Bangladeshi districts which were heartlessly overlooked during the Partition of 1947. In fact, prior to the partition of Bengal in 1905, there was no West Bengal; rather only one single Bengal Presidency having a common language, culture, heritage and traditions.

International borders were drawn cutting across districts, towns, villages, family homesteads putting members of the same family on opposite sides of the whimsically drawn border. The colonial rulers were unsympathetic towards the feelings of the natives of the land. Such a major decision was taken without seeking the people’s verdict by either the alien rulers or the local elites. The interest of ordinary folks was sacrificed for the sake of power mongering politicians. The sufferings of the people knew no bound. Rewriting history, people to people connectivity is growing all over the world. So, why not across our borders?

The boarding schools of the hill stations of Darjeeling and Kalimpong have been long famous for their high quality well-rounded education system. These schools were started during the British period for the children of the British officers posted in the administration and armed forces in Bengal. Many affluent Bangladeshi families now send their children to the boarding schools of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri of West Bengal for quality education. The rail connectivity between Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri will cut down the travel time of the parents and students enabling them to spend a few more days together during the school holidays.

Europe has done it, despite having people speaking multiple languages across their borders. In addition to language, we share Tagore, Nazrul, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Suchitra Sen and innumerable other luminaries to boast. Time is to prioritise people to people relationships across man-made borders over all else.