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13 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Harassment in cross-border customs and immigration

They can hardly explain why and how the tail-ender tourists in the row manage approval endorsement long before those pending in the waiting row for hours together
Sakib Hasan
Harassment in cross-border customs and immigration

It is an inalienable right of the citizens of a country to free movement outside the country if the citizens in question undertake the journeys right upon completing the existing legal formalities of the concerned countries. On the other hand, it is likewise the moral compulsion on the part of the government of any country to ensure smooth, hassle-free and safe movements of the citizens anywhere and anytime inside as well as outside the country once the intending journey-takers complete the legal process. However, the serious questions naturally arise when the official formalities and the legal provisions themselves turn out to be cumbersome and time-consuming weapon of citizen harassment.

In my just concluded 11-day long India tour, I have virtually gathered a horrifying experience of the utterly discouraging episodes as to how the outgoing and incoming travellers routinely undergo shockingly irritating trials and tribulations at borders. Though most of the travellers are made to log in the formalities of customs and immigration paying money to the syndicated network of the passport brokers, only a fortunate few can evade the exasperating hassles in crossing the borders. In peak tourist season like now when the borders of both ends are increasing surging up with the unrelenting flow of the tourists a horrible pandemonium reigns supreme in the busy transit outlets.

The authorities concerned will easily overpower and outsmart me by conjuring up a good number of seemingly valid reasons behind the long queue of the standing tourists for hours together but I am almost absolutely convinced that they can hardly explain why and how the tail-ender tourists in the row manage approval endorsement long before those pending in the waiting row for hours together. While waiting for my turn to collect my endorsed passport, a seriously ailing aged patient in the same row suddenly sank down on the ground just because of his sheer inability to stand erect. His son’s and daughters’ repeated humanitarian appeals for consideration could not draw the soft corner of the authority posted immediately before them. Like anywhere in the world, we also firmly believe that provisions of the law should be people-friendly customizing to the special considerations for the deserved ones.

Other than Benapole and Hili land ports there are a number of border transits like Burimari, Birol, Geda, Tamabil, etc. that are much less used for cross-border tourist transits. This is mainly because of the suitable locations of these two land ports that make them increasingly busy ones all the year round and especially in the winter season when in addition to the routine roamers a huge number of pleasure-hunting fresh tourists crowd the border transit posts. Since this is a common phenomenon over the years, the authorities concerned should be better equipped and well prepared to handle the rush in a disciplined way. However, we can hardly see any heartening breakthrough in the scenarios of sufferings travelling people always experience as their destined lot. Above anything else, we have to take into cognizance that a bulk of the passport-holders stand in the immigration line who have the utmost medical urgency to cross into India.

The whole concept of colonial governance has already changed hugely across the globe and is constantly changing with each passing day. The 21st century views governance as the best possible way to serve the people. Frankly speaking, today’s global village is vibrantly coloured by the festivities of changes. Unfortunately, the border authorities of both Bangladesh and India and to speak the whole truth especially those working in Bangladesh end seem to be in the analogue version rather than in tune to the digital version of the new millennium. Unless and until we acclimatize ourselves to the spirit of change with proper understanding of its underlying message, our people will be deprived of the warrantee of selfless, and service-friendly treatment by the public servants. Again I am not talking that the Indian side is absolutely service-oriented but their weaknesses and limitations can be ignored on the ground that they take it as an accountability of their job to serve the people.

I am not in the least pessimistic in temperament but the non-cooperative mindset and the unwelcoming gusto of both public servants and staff hardly made me optimistic regarding the quality of their service. It is clearly not the government that is to blame. Rather, the persons working in the government offices not only the one that is the issue at my hand but in all other possible spheres public service-providers are allegedly reported to be reluctant in imparting service spontaneously to the people by whom they are being materially paid. It is evidently a malignant colonial morbidity which though India has very successfully got rid of we are yet to shake off long after our independence.  To me it is clearly a case of half-hearted motivation of our respected service-providers.

As long as our service-providers will remain comfortably settled in the cocoons of non-cooperation, it will be practically difficult to bring them out from their attitudinal superiority unless going all out tough on them. Like many others we do believe that examples are better than the precepts.  By setting good examples of people-friendly service, public servants can be the trend-setters and ultimately the real heroes of the mass people.

The writer, an Assistant Professor of English at Bogra Cantonment Public School & College, is a contributor to The Independent.

E-mail:shasanbogra1@gmail.com

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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