Image from Deccanherald
Enclaves, also known as Chhit Mahals, are outlying and detached tracks of land situated inside Cooch Behar district. There are 51 such Bangladesh enclaves located in Indian Territory covering 7110.02 acres of land with population 14215. Similarly there are 111 Indian enclaves in Rangpur district of Bangladesh covering 17158.13 acres of land having population 37,334. People inside these enclaves are treated as foreigners. They are deprived of human rights being enjoyed by people in their respective countries They do not have access to facilities such as health, basic education, electricity, clean drinking water and decent livelihood. They live in abject poverty. The estimation of their average income is less than Rs 17 per day. They are not included in census and have no proof of their Indian citizenship.
There is a state of lawlessness. They have no access to administration of the respective countries. If there is any crime, residents of these enclaves cannot complain in local police station nor can they move to respective country police station.
None of the enclaves in India has access to Bangladesh except for Dahagram-Angaporta Enclaves which have access to its motherland through Tinbigha corridor. Tinbigha corridor is a strip of land situated 10 km south east of Mekhliganj sub divisional town measuring about 178 metres x 85 metres in dimension. It is located between the Bangladesh enclaves of Dahagram and Angorpota on the west and Panbari Mouza of Bangladesh on the east.
|Image from Coochbehar.nic.in|
Tinbigha corridor was inaugurated on June 26, 1992 as a result of agreement between Governments of two countries.
So far three agreements have been signed between India and Bangladesh Government for exchange of enclaves, First being Indira-Mujib Agreement in 1974 and second Indira-Ershad Agreement in 1982 and the latest on September 06, 2011. None of these agreements has been implemented.
“The agreement remains on paper. Practical implementation doesn’t happen. Only reason is lack of political will”, says Diptiman Sengupta, coordinator of Bharat Bangladesh enclave exchange coordination committee (BBEECC).
“In 1947, India got independence, afterwards it acquired Cooch Behar, Portugal, Sikkim but for all these, agreements were not signed; they were just acquired and taken control of, then why in India-Bangladesh enclave case agreements are being signed. It only reflects lack of political will. Thirty eight years have passed since first agreement was signed. No implementation took place. There is no scope of implementation even now”, said Diptiman.
The India Bangladesh land swap agreement which entails exchange of enclaves requires constitutional amendment for it requires demarcation of boundary. Two-third of support is required in both houses to pass the bill. Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and UPA ally Trinamool Congress seem to be upset with the move and do not want to support.
To get the backing of opposition National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon approached Sushma Swaraj, opposition leader in Loksabha and Arun Jaitley, opposition leader in Rajya Sabha but his effort failed to fructify.
BJP party led committee headed by S.S. Ahluwalia visited these enclaves to check the ground reality. There is anger among residents, they are not happy with this agreement. Any agreement signed should consider national interest and people concerned, said S.S. Ahluwalia.
Well, as long as Government doesn’t get backing of opposition and its own ally to make it reach two-third of majority in parliament, it can’t pass constitutional amendment bill and consequently the agreement will remain on papers.