India, Bangladesh exchange 162 enclaves to settle seven decades old border dispute

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Dhaka | Published: August 1, 2015 9:55:51 PM

Bangladesh and India exchanged 162 adversely-held enclaves at the stroke of the midnight, ending one of the world's most complex border disputes...

Bangladesh and India exchanged 162 adversely-held enclaves at the stroke of the midnight, ending one of the world’s most complex border disputes that had lingered since seven decades.

Thousands of people who have been living without schools, clinics or power for a generation erupted in cheers of celebration for their new citizenship as the clock struck one minute past midnight.

Past midnight on Friday, 111 Indian enclaves measuring 17,160 acres became Bangladesh territory. Similarly, 51 Bangladesh enclaves measuring 7,110 acres became Indian territory.

The boundaries are finally straightened, nice and easy, the physical curves of the borders that haunted the nobody’s peoples in a no man’s land is history, bdnews24.com reported.

According to an estimate, around 37,000 people are living in Indian enclaves in Bangladesh while 14,000 people are staying in Bangladeshi enclaves in India.

For the population in these 162 enclaves, life had been nightmare all these years.

Now the enclaves resident on both sides of the border will enjoy the benefits of nationality of India or Bangladesh, as the case may be, and thus access to civic services, education, health-care and other facilities provided by the two Governments to their respective nationals.

The Registrar General of India, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and District Magistrate, Cooch Behar and Deputy Commissioners of Lalmonirhat, Panchagarh, Kurigram and Nilphamari worked systematically and in a coordinated fashion to collect the options from the residents.

The actual option taking exercise was carried out by 75 teams operating in the enclaves in India and Bangladesh from July 6-16, 2015.

30 observers from Indian and Bangladesh governments were present in the enclaves during this survey period. Data from this joint exercise is now being verified by the Registrar General of India and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Both governments are working closely together to facilitate trouble-free movement of the residents before the stipulated date of November 30, 2015.

India has already sanctioned a Rs 3,048-crore package for rehabilitation of the people affected by the exchange of enclaves under the Land Boundary Agreement implementation.

Between July 31, 2015 and June 30, 2016, the entire process, including physical exchange of enclaves and land parcels in adverse possession along with boundary demarcation, is expected to be completed.

India and Bangladesh will print, sign at plenipotentiary level and exchange the strip maps of un-demarcated sectors.

Both governments will facilitate “orderly, safe and secure passage” to the enclave dwellers along with their “personal belongings and movable property” to Bangladesh or India through proper “travel documents”, according to a letter exchanged by the two countries.

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