India, Bangladesh Swap Land Near Their Border

India and Bangladesh swapped land along their border, ending a decadeslong dispute that had left more than 50,000 people virtually stateless.

The South Asian nations share a highly irregular, 2,500-mile border, where because of a quirk in their shared history small pockets of land belonging to each had been surrounded completely by the territory of the other.

At midnight Friday, those stranded, landlocked islets known as enclaves—111 Indian plots in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladesh parcels in India—hoisted new national flags. Their residents now have a choice: Stay and change nationalities, or move.

Most have decided to stay put, according to figures released by Bangladeshi officials. Worries about how and where migrants would be resettled appear to have prevented many people on both sides from moving, said a local official in the Kurigram district of Bangladesh.

Abdul Jalil, a 51-year-old Bangladeshi farmer in the Karala enclave in India’s Cooch Behar district, said he was changing nationality to keep his land.

“I was born here, my father and my grandfather died here,” he said about the enclave he grew up on, a small plot of land with a dozen houses and a mosaic of jute and rice fields. “From Saturday, I’m an Indian.”

Karala, which has become officially a part of India now, was an even more unusual piece of real estate called a counter-enclave. It was a five square-mile parcel of Bangladeshi land, surrounded by Indian land, which in turn was bounded by Bangladeshi territory.

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Article source: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2015/08/03/india-bangladesh-swap-land-near-their-border/

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