Enclave-tion: It’s official!

by Sujoy Sur

At the stroke of midnight, as the clock struck 12, on the 31st of July 2015, a few more people in the already independent countries of India and Bangladesh tasted the air of legal and political independence. In a post earlier, we had in detail discussed about the issue of India-Bangladesh land border dispute with respect to enclaves; an issue which culminated on the 31st of July with the agreement finally becoming official. 14,000 people who were de-jure a part of Bangladesh were not in all capacities a part of India, factually and legally. These 14,000 people are spread over 51 enclaves which belonged to Bangladesh earlier and have become a part of India now. With respect to Bangladesh, there are about 37000, spread over in 111, enclaves who have now become a part of Bangladesh, factually and legally.

It was a cause of rejoice all over these territories as no more uncertainty looms over them – this emergent certainty now pervades over not only spheres like legal recognition of rights and land, but also over spheres like infrastructural development, healthcare, job opportunities, greater political outreach to the people from the government and of the people towards the system.

Abdul Jalil tends to his cows near a barbed-wire fence along the India-Bangladesh border.
Abdul Jalil tends to his cows near a barbed-wire fence along the India-Bangladesh border.

The people staying in these enclaves were provided with a choice of automatic change of nationality by virtue of them staying on the exchanged piece of land or maintain nationality and change their territory. People mostly preferred the former, as these lands have a generational importance and attachment to them, something which cannot be compromised with for many. Abdul Jalil, a 51-year-old Bangladeshi farmer in the Karala enclave in India’s Cooch Behar district said he was swapping his nationality rather than leave his land. He said, “From Saturday, I am an Indian”[1]

In another enclave, Dashiar Chhara, Sharifa Akter, 20, held a candle in her hand and smiled. “I can now fulfil my dream of being a top government bureaucrat,”.[2]“We’re now human beings with full human rights,” said Maidul Islam, 18, of the handover.[3]

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[1] Yed Zain Al-Mahmood, India, Bangladesh Swap Land Near Their Border, The Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/articles/india-bangladesh-swap-land-near-their-border-1438391307

[2]  Shafiqul Alam, Crowds cheer Bangladesh-India land swap after 70 years in limbo, Yahoo News!, http://news.yahoo.com/crowds-cheer-bangladesh-india-land-swap-70-years-195939419.html

[3] Ibid.

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