Failed promises: Some enclave dwellers want to return to Bangladesh

A year after enclave dwellers got Indian citizenship, several of these people want to go back to Bangladesh.

Published: 07th August 2016 09:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th August 2016 09:20 AM   |  A+A-

By PTI

COOCH BEHAR: A year after enclave dwellers got Indian citizenship, several of these people want to go back to Bangladesh as they are miffed over the lack of job and other opportunities in India.

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs Pradip Bhattacharya said several enclave dwellers, who came to Indian enclaves after August 1, 2015, have expressed their desire to go back to Bangladesh.

"I have received reports of enclave dwellers who had come from Bangladesh and had settled in Indian enclaves wanting to go back to Bangladesh due to lack of job and other basic opportunities. This is a matter of serious concern. I will inquire the matter with the union home department," Bhattacharya, who is also a senior Congress MP from Bengal, told PTI.

"Apart from lack of job opportunities, the enclave dwellers are also complaining that they are being deprived of other government schemes," he said.

Bangladesh and India exchanged 162 adversely-held enclaves on August 1, 2015, ending one of the world's most complex border disputes that had lingered since seven decades. One hundred and eleven Indian enclaves measuring 17,160 acres became Bangladesh territory and similarly, 51 Bangladesh enclaves measuring 7,110 acres became Indian territory.

All the Indian enclaves are located in West Bengal's Cooch Behar district. The 51 enclaves are spread across Dinhata, Mekliganj, Sitai, Sitalkuchi and Toofanganj assembly constituencies.

With the implementation of The Indo-Bangla Land Border Agreement last year, 14,864 residents of 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India became Indian citizens, while 921 residents of Indian enclaves in Bangladesh migrated to Indian part of enclaves.

Chief Coordinator of Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee and Citizens' Rights Coordination Committee (CRCC) Diptiman Sengupta, who has been fighting hard for the cause of the people living in the enclaves, also said those who have come from Bangladesh are yet to get proper jobs and want to go back to Bangladesh.

"Those who have come from Indian enclaves which were situated in Bangladesh are feeling alienated here. They don't have either any job opportunities or any proper source of income. How will they secure their future? So they feel that going back to Bangladesh is the best option to secure their future," Sengupta told PTI.

He claimed most of the demands of the enclave dwellers are still unfulfilled.

"Two of the foremost demands of enclave dwellers, both who were on Indian part and those who have migrated from Bangladesh part, were job reservation and quick disposal of land records and settlements. But these demands are yet to be met. What will a person do without any proper documents of land and settlement," he asked.

Sengupta's view was echoed by residents of the enclaves who feel they are being deprived despite tall promises of political parties.

"We are yet to get proper jobs. We were much better in Bangladesh and if things don't improve here we would want to move back to Bangladesh," said Osman Goni, an enclave dweller.

When contacted, Cooch Behar District Magistrate P Ulangathan said, "The enclave dwellers have been given job cards under MNREGA schemes. And I have no such report of anyone willing to go Bangladesh due to lack of opportunities."

Local MLA of Dinhata and senior TMC leader Udayan Guha, who for decades has monitored the problems in the enclaves from close quarters, criticised a section of enclave dwellers who want to sit back at home and are unwilling to work.

"For first two months, government has served them cooked food. Now the situation has gone to such a extent that they want to sit back at home and depend on government help for the rest of their lives. Those who have come from Bangladesh side were offered jobs in some factories and mills but they denied to do so. So what will the government do? There are certain elements which are instigating them and that is why some of them are saying that they want to go back to Bangladesh," he said.

He added that survey of the land which is to be allotted is nearing completion and land deeds will be handed over very soon.

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