During our drive from Shantiniketan to Siliguri, we drove through the famous Chicken Neck Corridor where India, Nepal and Bangladesh borders are extremely close to each other (thereby creating the narrow chicken-neck-like image on the map). Here, we talk about and discover the issues and factors that lead to crime and illegal cross-border trade in the area.
We reached Siliguri just past midnight. Our friend who owns a lovely hotel there was waiting for us at that late hour with refreshments and a grand dinner.
Day 9 Summary
Origin: Boutijole, near Bolpur and Shantiniketan, in West Bengal
Destination: Siliguri, in West Bengal
Distance Covered: 429 kms
What we discovered
The drive was alright till Farakka, West Bengal. There the problem started. It is perhaps the largest transshipment point for goods to Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal and also on the reverse the rest of India. We were stuck at the same point on the road for more than an hour. The line of trucks for miles hindered our speed.
We stopped by at a couple of towns and found that they were mostly Bangladeshi “refugees”. The whole place is occupied by them. To add to this, our cell phones get a welcome message from the operator, “XXXXXX Mobile welcomes you to Bangladesh”!!!
We did a telephonic interview with a friend who is in the know of things in that area. He had given us an appointment to meet him in Siliguri, but considering the delay, we knew we will not reach Siliguri till after midnight.
We were surprised when we were told that the biggest smuggled item into Bangladesh was cattle. The next biggest item was cough mixture that is taken into Nepal from India, repacked and sent back into the “chicken neck” part of India, to be smuggled by land into Bangladesh. Reason? Presumably, the alcohol content in the cough mixture, for a country where liquor is not freely available in the open market.