Celebrations broke out amongst villagers in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar area after India and Bangladesh exchanged the Instruments of Ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).
“With this agreement (LBA) now we are formally Indian citizen, we thank Indian Prime Minister, Bangladesh Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of West Bengal,” said a villager.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Secretaries of India and Bangladesh signed and exchanged the Instruments of Exchange in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
A few weeks ago, the Indian Parliament unanimously approved a Constitution amendment bill to give full effect to the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 with Bangladesh and the related 2011 Protocol.
The agreement aimed at the acquiring of territories by India and the transfer of territories to Bangladesh through retaining of adverse possession in pursuance of the 1974 agreement between the two nations.
Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya all fall under the bill. According to a joint census conducted by both the countries, there are 111 Bangladeshi enclaves in India that houses 37,369 people while 14,215 people have been residing at 55 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh.
The agreement with Bangladesh will mean exchange of a series of enclaves. Assam alone will have to hand over 250 acres.
The exchange of the enclaves would end decades of ambiguity for thousands living on the wrong side of the border.