The Unbelievable Square

According to article 1.14 of the Land Boundary Agreement signed between Bangladesh and India in 1974, “(…) India will lease in perpetuity to Bangladesh an area of 178 by 85 metres near ‘Tin Bigha’ to connect Dahagram with Panbari Mouza of Bangladesh.”

The Tin Bigha corridor. In my whole life, I had never seen a place like this. I had even never thought it could exist. A square of land surrounded by high fences. Inside, the road is borrowed by Bangladesh (that pays a symbolic 2.150 taka per year to India), the roadsides are Indian.

We are escorted by the police to visit the area. At the entrance of the square, soldiers warn us: our Bangladeshi fellows can take pictures outside the corridor – basically, photos of the fence -, not inside. We foreigners are not allowed to keep any prints of our passage here.

As we are walking through this strip of land, it feels weird. The atmosphere is tense. I am nervous and excited at the same time. We are miming to lay down a foot on India’s roadside although most of us do not have the neighbouring country’s visa. The laughs conceal the thoughts that spark in my mind. I feel anger. These borders are beyond comprehension. I know very few about these two territories’ past and present, but what I see is just a ridiculous human creation. What I see is just lands that look the same, but are crossed by metal structures secured by weapons.

After a few minutes only, we are reaching the other side of the fence. We enter Bangladesh again. The journey we have just made seems like hallucination. We all climb in the van and get back to our seats. Silence reigns. I guess all of us are reflecting on what we have just experienced. This time, I do not want to ask all my questions to my local fellows. I try to gather factual information on my phone to have insights on this corridor. It turns out that there is currently no network. It is the only place in Bangladesh we have been so far that is totally disconnected. Probably not a coincidence.

Photo: Sadia Marium