India's Border Security Force (BSF) on Monday did not allow thousands of people, gathered at bordering village of Omarkhana in Panchagarh Sadar upazila, to exchange greetings of Pahela Baishakh with their relatives and friends in India.
Unlike every year, relatives living in the two neighbouring countries were barred from reuniting near the border fence in Panchagarh on April 14, the day Pahela Baishakh is celebrated in Bangladesh.
On Monday, when Pahela Baishakh was being celebrated in West Bengal of India, people gathered near both sides of the border, hoping that the authorities would allow the event that day.
Locals quoting BSF personnel said the reunion was barred due to security concerns ahead of India's national elections, scheduled to be held on April 18.
A BSF guard seeking anonymity said, “Our higher authorities did not give permission to allow it this time.”
Bisoya Rani, a resident of Birganj in Dinajpur, brought homecooked dishes for her mother who lives in Shiliguri of Jalpaiguri in India. She saw her mother last year at the same place.
But this time she was not allowed to reach the border fence to see her mother. With tears rolling down her cheeks, a heartbroken Bisoya was seen going home with the dishes.
Thousands of others, on nearly three to four-kilometre-long stretch on the Bangladesh side, also had to leave the area after waiting for hours near border pillars 343, 744 and 745.
The same day, however, residents of both the countries were allowed to reach the border fence on Haripur border in Thakurgaon and reunite with their loved ones.
Border security forces of both the countries usually allow the reunion on Haripur border on the day when Pahela Baishakh is celebrated in India's West Bengal.
Between 11:00am and 4:00pm, thousands exchanged greetings and various gifts including food items in Karigaon, Kandal, Molani, Dabri, Betna and Bujrukh areas near border pillars 355 and 372.
Yasmin Tara, a housewife living in India's Uttar Dinajpur, was among the satisfied visitors. She was quite delighted to be able to see her mother Nozima Khatun after a long time. He mother lives in Panchagarh Sadar upazila.
Lt Col SNM Samiunnabi Chowdhury, commanding officer of 50 BGB Battalion, said BGB and BSF have been arranging the event at the border fence, respecting emotions of the people on both sides of the border.
Monday's gathering was held peacefully, he added.