Families from India and Bangladesh meet at the border during a religious festival
Across almost three kilometres of border divided by an almost eight-feet high barbed wire fence, thousands of people whose families are split among two different nations came together Friday, exchanging greetings and gifts.
Families from Kochal and Chapasar in Haripur upazila of Thakurgaon, and from Nargaon and Makarhat on the Indian side flocked to the border fence in the morning.
Every year on the Jamar Kalir Jiu Puja, a local Hindu religious event, people organize this event, but the families coming from both sides are from all caste and creed. The gathering takes place between pillars 345 and 346 of the India-Bangladesh border.
From the morning, thousands were seen crowding at a distance from the border on both sides. In the afternoon, border guards from both sides gave in and people rushed to the fence to meet their families.
Although no gates were opened, people found their families across the fence, breaking into tears, touching, greeting and handing over gifts and food. Many of these families were torn apart during the independence and have rarely seen each other since.
Sonabhan, a 52-year-old woman from Baliadangi upazila’s Kalmegh village, saw her daughter Kamala Rani after 13 years. Both broke into tears hugging each other across the gaps in the wire fence. Kamala, her youngest, lives in Nadia
district in West Bengal.
Shahana Akhter, 66, from Panchagarh’s Boda, met her elder brother Abdullah. Her family is from the other side. She got married in Panchagarh during the Liberation War. She last met her parents and siblings 20 years ago.
The siblings wept over the death of their parents when they met.
Many other families passed clothes and sweets across the fence as they exchanged news.
Jamar Kalir Jiu Puja Committee President Nagen Kumar Pal said there were some restrictions this year because of the upcoming election, and therefore the crowds were smaller than usual.
“However families met at the border and exchanged gifts. With the administration’s support, our puja observations were held without any difficulties,” he said.