New life for enclave people from tomorrow

Around 56,000 inhabitants of 162 enclaves inside Bangladesh and India will get citizenship of a country of their choice from midnight tomorrow as the territories are exchanged, ending decades of isolation and deprivation.
From 12.01 am Friday, 111 enclaves will become part of Bangladesh, while 51 will return to India.
According to the latest census conducted by a joint working group from July 6-16, there are 41,449 people in 111 in Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh, while 14,856 people live in 51 Bangladeshi enclaves inside India.
When the inhabitants were given the option to choose their nationality, only 979 people of the 41,449 residents of Indian enclaves have opted to go to India, while not a single person from the 51 enclaves in India chose to come to Bangladesh.
While visiting different enclaves, this correspondent found difference of opinion among the inhabitants.
Sundor Bala, 70, a resident of Boshtari village in 119 Bashkata enclave under Patgram upazila, said she wants to go to India as she has lived in an Indian territory all her life.
Shoda Nondo Barmon, 60, a resident of the same village, who has also chosen to go to India, said he has lost his home and land to erosion by the Dharla River, and he had deep concerns about his family’s future. So, he wants to go to India to avail of lucrative development packages offered by the West Bengal government.
Rozen Mia, 18, of 15 Khorkharia enclave in Patgram, who used to work at a metal shop in Kerala, wants to settle in India for his livelihood.
However, Rajkumar, 30, a resident of Vitor Kuti enclave under Lalmonirhat sadar upazila, does not want to go to India as he was born here and knows no one in India.
Moinul Haque, president of Bharat-Bangla Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee in Bangladesh, said various programmes, including special prayers in every mosque and temple in the enclaves, cultural functions and sports events, will be held tomorrow to celebrate the long-awaited enclave exchange.
Golam Mostofa, general secretary of the organisation, said they want comprehensive packages for development of the enclave people.
The government has allocated Tk 200 crores in the present budget for development of the 111 enclaves that will become Bangladesh territory.
In 2011, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and then Indian PM Manmohan Singh signed a protocol to implement the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement to exchange the enclaves. A bill to ratify the accord was passed in both houses of the Indian parliament in May this year.
As per the LBA, India will transfer 111 enclaves with a total area of 17,160 acres to Bangladesh, while Bangladesh would hand over 51 enclaves with an area of 7,110 acres to India.