NEW DELHI: As India and Bangladesh exchange 162 adversely-held enclaves on Friday midnight, New Delhi termed it as a “historic” day which will mark the resolution of a complex issue that has lingered since independence.
Bangladeshi enclaves in India and Indian enclaves in Bangladesh shall stand physically transferred to the other country with effect from the midnight of July 31.
“July 31 will thus be a historic day for both India and Bangladesh. The day marks the resolution of a complex issue that has lingered since independence,” a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry said.
There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India which are to be exchanged pursuant to the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and 2011 Protocol and instruments of ratification of which were exchanged during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh on June 6-7, 2015.
It also marks the day from which enclave residents 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.
Following Modi’s visit to Dhaka, much work has gone into ascertaining the nationality options of the enclave residents.
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 also 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.
After successfully completing the exercise of ascertaining nationality options of enclave residents, the ground has been prepared for the movement of residents who exercise the option of moving from an Indian enclave to Indian mainland.
Both governments are working closely together to facilitate trouble-free movement of these residents before the stipulated date of November 30, 2015.
Other steps with regard to implementation of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and 2011 Protocol are underway in accordance with agreed modalities between governments of India and Bangladesh.
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.
The Centre has already sanctioned a Rs 3,048-crore package for rehabilitation of the people affected by the exchange of enclaves under the LBA 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.
India and Bangladesh have also outlined the modalities of a complex process of settlement of immovable property. The dwellers will have to provide “details of the records and specifications of immovable property” to the local district administration.