At the midnight of 1st Aug 2015 i.e 68 years after India’s independence, there comes another freedom for the 51,000 citizens surviving across 162 enclaves in India and Bangladesh.
To be precise, the 14,214 citizens of Bangladesh, who had been residing in 51 enclaves within India, became Indians. And out of the 37,000 citizens living in Bangladesh, some 979 have opted to move to India whereas the remaining will become residents to Bangladesh. The respective enclaves will be merged within each of the country.
This would mean a total of 7,110 acres of land will become Indian territory and the 111 enclaves i.e 17,160 acres of land will become part of Bangladesh.
This has been a distant dream for many of these citizens, one of whom, Asgar Ali, a 100-year-old man from the oldest Bangladeshi enclave says:
“Allah wanted me to see this day. Now I can die in peace in India, as an Indian. Being Indian gives us a sense of hope. My grandchildren will now study like other Indian children in government schools; my daughters will be taken to an Indian hospital at childbirth; we’ll have electricity at home. And I will become part of history.”
The Cooch Behar administration has arranged temporary camps to accommodate the 900-odd enclave dwellers who have opted to come over to India. The Centre has made an official gazette notification incorporating the new territory in India. Soon after the Indian Posts will give these areas a pin code. In time the people will get Aadhar cards, ration cards and the Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana will connect them with the mainland.
Bangladesh too welcomed the exchange with hoisting its flag, holding prayers in areas of worship and lighting 68 candles to commemorate the years of struggle for an identity. Long awaited justice!
Source: Hindustan Times