TT, 14 April 2017: A large number of people from different parts of Jalpaiguri district on Friday massed along the fence that divides the boundary with Bangladesh to meet those from the neighbouring country and exchange greetings on the eve of Bengali new year.
The grand display of the border bonhomie was witnessed at Bholapara and Bhatpara in Rajganj block of Jalpaigri district. As the border guards of India and Bangladesh kept vigil, the people stood along the barbed fence since morning. On the other side were mostly the residents of Panchagarh district in Bangladesh.
"I managed to get 12 pairs of hilsa from a person who had brought the fish from the other side of the fence. He took only Rs 1,200 from me. It is unbelievably cheap and most importantly, the ambience of amity and peace was excellent," Nandan Biswas, a Jalpaiguri resident who visited the border today, said.
Bablu Rehman, who lives in Mainaguri, on the other hand, took saris and several other gifts for Mehbooba, his sister who stays in Panchagarh and came with her family.
"Today is an important day for both of us and the families. We look towards this day when we could meet each other and share some time. Although the fences are there in the middle, it is altogether a different feeling," Bablu, a carpenter by occupation, said.
As fish traders of Bangladesh reached the border with several quintals of hilsa, there was a noticeable enthusiasm among thousands of Indians. Even the BSF guards carrying notes crumpled in fists jostled with the people to reach near the fence and buy hilsa at unbelievably low prices.
"The hilsa that comes from Bangladesh to our local markets costs between Rs 800 and Rs 1,000 a kg. It was nice to hear that one has to pay only Rs 100 and that too, for a pair. Naturally, the crowd on our side was excited to grab at least a pair of fish," Rajat Das, a schoolteacher who visited the area, said.
Reporting by our Jalpaiguri correspondent and picture by Biplab Basak