Enclave exchange hopes fade

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Enclave people inside Bangladesh on Friday decided to wage a ‘tougher movement’ in a week with the land boundary agreement implementation becoming uncertain as the Indian parliament ended its current session without ratification of the 1974 deal.
Leaders of the enclaves of both the countries are scheduled to hold a meeting near Tin Bigha Corridor today to work out simultaneous programmes to push for the demand for the exchange of enclaves between the two neighbours as they find ‘no hope,’ an enclave leader told New Age.
The Lalmonirhat district unit enclave exchange coordination committee held a meeting in Indian 119 No Baskata enclave at Jongra of Patgram, marking the second anniversary of the singing of the land protocol.
Both the governments singed the document in Dhaka on September 6, 2011 to expedite the exchange of the enclaves which was left pending a ratification of the LBA that requires a constitutional amendment by the Indian parliament.
The people rallying for the enclave exchange also went on demonstrations for push for the implementation of the deal at the earliest. They said that they had neither any official identity nor could they move to their main land.
The Lalmonirhat enclave exchange coordination committee general secretary, Azizur Rahman, told the meeting that the enclave people had been denied all their basic rights.
Both the governments are responsible for ensuring the rights of the people, he said adding that they would wage a tougher movement to establish the rights of the enclave people.
More than 2,000 people from 59 Indian enclaves located in five upazilas in Lalmonirhat gathered at Bashkata to exchange views about their rights.
They also decided to
submit memorandums to the Bangladesh government thorough the district commissioner and to the Indian government through the India’s Border Security Force to push for their demand.
Enclave inhabitant Mahir Uddin Sarker, 72, said that they could not move to the country of their choice as long as the deal was not ratified by India and the enclaves were exchanged.
The coordination committee’s vice-president, Abdu Hamid Aktery, who presided over the meeting, said that both India and Bangladesh had undertaken numerous initiatives to resolve the problem but the initiatives remained only in paper.
Assam Gana Parishad and the Trinamool Congress on August 19 opposed a move in Rajya Sabha for the introduction of the Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill 2013, which provides for the exchange of enclaves with Bangladesh.
The bill could not be placed because of protests although the session was extended by a week from August 30.
The enclave people who are considered ‘stateless’ were worried about the future of the land boundary agreement as the tenures of both the government were nearing an end.
The bill was intended to give effect to the acquisition of territories by India and transfer of certain territories to Bangladesh in pursuance of the land boundary deal. India and Bangladesh have a common boundary of 4,096.7 kilometres.
Bharatiya Janata Party members also raised an objection to the introduction of the bill which was finally deferred.
The Pashcim Bangla chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, reportedly opposed the central government’s plan for a border deal with Bangladesh to go through.
‘I have discussed the issue several times with the external affairs minister in the past two years. It is difficult to accept the proposal of giving away land to Bangladesh,’ she was quoted by the Indian media as saying.
India has kept pending the ratification of the land boundary agreement signed on May 16, 1974, halting the process of border demarcation and the exchange of enclaves till date although Bangladesh ratified the treaty on November 27, 1974.
There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh including 59 in Lalmonirhat, 36 in Panchagarh, 4 in Nilphamari and 12 in Kurigram and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in Koch Bihar of Pashchim Banga in India.

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