March 1, 2009 5:14:24 am
For the first busload of passengers who crossed the border to this side after the mutiny by Bangladesh Rifles left over 60 dead,nothing on the way bore the signs of the bloodbath they have been hearing over the past three days.
Sitting in a travel agents office on Free School Street,Mahfuz (38) said the situation in Dhaka and at the border is normal. We were supposed to be here on Friday but were apprehensive of the situation, said Mahfuz,who is waiting for his Rajdhani tickets to go to Delhi,where he is to apply for a visa to South Africa.
B C Sarkar (50),who also came by the same bus,said though the bus ride was smooth,Wednesdays gun battle at BDRs headquarters was scary. My residence is near Pilkhana where the BDR attacked army officers. Soon after the firing began,many localities near Pilkhana were evacuated. The residents only returned the next day after assurances from the government, says Sarkar.
Raju Ahmed (32) and his boss N D Delwar,a garments factory owner,also arrived in the same bus. Before leaving Dhaka,we had heard reports that the Army had taken over border management. However,we found the BDR still manning the border. On my way to the bus station,I drove past Pilkhana. There was no visible Army presence, says Ahmed.
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The journey was hassle-free and we experienced no problem while crossing the border. Life has returned to normal in Dhaka, adds Delwar. Reports coming in from the Petrapole-Benapole border said although there was no restriction on the passage of goods trucks,cross-border trade did not take off due to an agitation staged jointly by the CITU and INTUC over the recent sentencing of a truck driver to life imprisonment.
Till Friday,at least 500 trucks ferrying goods to Bangladesh from India were stranded at Petrapole. Following the mutiny,the BSF had asked people to stay away from the border while the government had restricted movement of vehicles. Trade operations at the three Land Customs Stations - Mehdipur in Malda,Hili in South Dinajpur and Chengrabandha in Cooch Behar were suspended.
Everything was normal today,but trade did not take place due to agitation by truckers unions. The high alert sounded after Wednesdays attack will remain in force for some more days, ADIG BSF (south Bengal) Vikas Chandra said.
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