Border villagers in doldrums

Balasore: Dual citizenship may be gaining popularity among people with Indian origin so as to reconnect with the roots. But, villagers of Sankhamedi village under Bhograi block here bordering West Bengal are deprived of resident status.

The villagers avail benefits of government programmes from either side of the border as they possess voter IDs and ration cards of Odisha as well as West Bengal.

“Though we come under Odisha, the government of West Bengal is forcibly issuing us identity cards and ration cards,” resident of Sankhamedi village Basant Jena said.

“We used to give revenue but we have stopped giving it for the last 15 years. However, we are being benefited by the WB government’s BPL and APL norms,” Sankhamedi villager Mir Maqbool said.

“The WB government has troubled us a lot. Hence, we would be happy if we remain under the administration of the government of Odisha,” ward member Narayan Prasad Jena said.

Now, the villagers are perplexed as campaigners are forcing them to vote for their candidates contesting West Bengal Assembly polls. There are as many as 320 voters in the village. 

Poll posters and banners could be seen in this village and political parties in fray are leaving no stones unturned to woo the voters.

When contacted, the Bhograi MLA said, the village is under Odisha limits. On the other hand, the district collector has said, it is up to the state government to decide on this.

“I won’t term it as a cut off area. It was and remains to be a part of the state. The people of the area used to give revenue till 1987, but they have stopped giving the revenue as objections followed at that time,” Bhograi MLA Anant Das informed.

“The tahasildar has recommended the application. It will be sent to the government. Whatever decision the government takes it will be final,” Additional Collector Sribatsa Jena said.

As per reports, there was swapping of villages between the two states in 1930 in which Odisha had got 10 villages in return of 9. However, there was no documentary evidence on Sankhamedi village. Since 1986-87, land cess was not collected from the villagers and interestingly the village went missing from the Bhograi Tehsil map from 1989.