After learning that the broker Jokhim had arranged a “signal clear” for the transport of six bulls across the India-Bangladesh border, the cattle transporter Alibaba had no time to speak to anyone. Indian border commanders who had accepted Jokhim’s bribes had verbally granted a signal, which Jokhim relayed to Alibaba by rushing to his house. A signal clear comprises a precious two-to-three-hour window of opportunity during which Indian cattle workers such as Alibaba can cross the border to Bangladesh with their animals.“Signal clear,” Alibaba said to me, tying his cotton gamosa (towel) around his head as protection against the heat and the rain.
Author: Malini Sur
Malini Sur is an environmental and socio-cultural anthropologist with research interests in India, Bangladesh and Australia. She studies agrarian borderlands, cities and the environment. A first line of inquiry is concerned with infrastructures, transnational flows, and identities.
Her book, Jungle Passports: Fences, Mobility, and Citizenship at the Northeast India-Bangladesh Border (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021) recasts established notions of citizenship and mobility along violent borderlands.