On Saturday, 6 April 2023, the first-ever border haat in Sylhet division along the India border was opened at Bholaganj in Companiganj upazila. Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad and Indian High Commissioner in Sylhet Niraj Kumar Jaiswal jointly inaugurated the haat, which is located between East Khasi Hills of India’s Meghalaya and Sylhet’s Bholaganj.
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Strengthening Bilateral Relationship through Border Haat:
During the inauguration, Minister Imran said that the establishment of the border haat will strengthen the bilateral relationship between the countries, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina loves friendship. He added that more haats will be set up in border areas once the success of this haat is determined.
Vigilance against Smuggling and Misdeeds:
The minister also directed police and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to remain vigilant to prevent smuggling and misdeeds from occurring at the haat.
Benefits of the Haat for Both Countries:
Commissioner Jaiswal stated that both countries will benefit from the haat through exchanging locally-made products. He also mentioned that Bangladeshis with relatives in India will get the opportunity to meet them at the haat without a visa.
Plans for More Haats in the District:
Both the Bangladeshi minister and the Indian high commissioner announced that more haats will be set up in the district in the days to come. A process is also underway to launch the border haat in Sunamganj.
Lottery for Sellers and Distribution of Buyer Cards:
Lushi Kant Hajong, upazila nirbahi officer at Companiganj, explained that they selected 24 people through a lottery to sell their products from the Bangladesh side. The rest who applied for selling at the haat will be given the opportunity later. The Haat Management Committee’s Chairman and district’s Additional Magistrate have already distributed the buyer cards to the people who applied for it. Visitor cards will be given to freedom fighters and journalists later.
Entry Fee and Operating Hours:
A buyer will be able to take products worth a maximum of $200 dollars by paying an entry fee of Tk 30 while a seller will have to pay Tk 70 for a day. All the money will be used for renovation and development works of the haat. The haat will sit on Saturday and Wednesday each week, and business activities will remain open from 10am to 4pm.
Display of Locally-produced Products:
Locally-produced products will be displayed on 26 Bangladeshi and 24 Indian stalls, and residents of the five-kilometer surrounding area will get an opportunity to sell and buy products.
13 Border Haats Currently in Operation:
Currently, 13 border haats are operating between India and Bangladesh, and three more haats are awaited to launch.
Dignitaries Present at the Inaugural Ceremony:
Sylhet’s Deputy Commissioner Md Mujibur Rahman chaired the inaugural ceremony, and Additional District Magistrate Md Imrul Hasan, Superintendent of Police Abdullah Al-Mamun, and representatives of India-Bangladesh Border Haat Management Committee were also present.
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