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Saturday, August 1, 2015, Shraban 17, 1422 BS, Shawal 15, 1436 Hijr

Land Swap Celebrated In Enclosures
Enclaves pass into history
President, PM greets enclave people
Published :Saturday, 1 August, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 170
Saleem Samad
Finally after 68 years, the land-swap of enclaves has enabled both Bangladesh and India to extend their sovereignty over 162 tiny enclosures in each other's territory, which marks the beginning of the implementation of the landmark Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) signed in 1974.
The Bangladeshi national flag was hoisted at 12:01am at Dasiarchhara enclave in Phulbari upazila of Kurigram marking the historic day.
Thousands of people joined the flag hoisting ceremony.
However, Indian flag kept half mast following the death of former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam.
President Abdul Hamid on Friday congratulated the people of enclaves on the eve of the swap of 162 enclaves between Bangladesh and India as per the Land Boundary Agreement.
In a congratulatory message, the President said the exchange of enclaves is an historic moment for the two countries which has been resolved after long 68 years.
"The initiative to specify land boundary which was introduced through Mujib-Indira agreement in 1974 is being implemented in 2015 due to the sincere wish of both Bangladesh and India," Abdul Hamid added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a congratulatory message said, "After long 68 years, the enclave people got their identity, scope for living in specific land, the national flag and map of their beloved motherland."
The PM also said there is no distinction between the people of the enclaves and other citizens of the country.
"The government would take all kinds of steps to undertake such project to improve the lifestyle of the enclave people," she added.
Thousands of enclave residents braving rain have celebrated the land swap. The residents lighted candles and lamps, cooked food to feast, organised various traditional games and cultural events.
However, the two neighbouring countries officially did not observe the day, as they were too busy with their homework.
Since Friday morning, thousands of people automatically have changed their citizenship - either of Bangladesh or India.
India and Bangladesh have already completed an exercise in July to ascertain the option of the residents in the enclaves regarding the choice of citizenship.
The exchange of the enclaves has been formalised in a historic LBA sealed last month, 40 years after the two countries reached a deal between then Prime Minister Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi.
The government has published an Extraordinary Gazette Notification on Thursday on the "Notification for exclusion and inclusion of territories," which says that the 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh measuring an area of 17,160.63 acres and 2,267.682 acres of Indian land adversely possessed by Bangladesh in six regions will be the integral part of Bangladesh territory from August 1 of 2015.
The 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India measuring an area of 7,710.02 acres and 2,777.038 acres of Bangladesh land adversely possessed by India in 12 regions will be excluded from the territory of Bangladesh from August 1 of 2015. This gazette document enables the government to establish sovereignty over 111 acquired enclosures in Bangladesh and formally gave up the land rights of 51 enclaves in India.
Bangladesh and India will implement the LBA of 1974 and the enabling Protocol of September, 2011, in a phased manner over the next 11 months. According to an estimate, around 37,000 people are living in Indian enclaves in Bangladesh while 14,000 people are staying in Bangladeshi enclaves in India.
The enclave dwellers will begin to migrate to their country of choice from November 1 till end of the month.
The migration has been deliberately scheduled after the end of monsoon to facilitate the movement by officials of the two countries.
Both governments will facilitate "orderly, safe and secure passage" to the enclave dwellers along with their "personal belongings and movable property" to Bangladesh or India through proper "travel documents," according to a letter exchanged by the two countries, said a senior official of Ministry of Home Affairs.
Officials of both the countries are still preparing details of the rehabilitation package, including the pieces of land they would be given in exchange for what they left behind or monetary relief.
Meanwhile, the Department of Land Records and Survey has finalised the political map of Bangladesh afresh with the inclusion of the 111 enclaves, an official said.
The political maps of Bangladesh and Indian will be printed, signed at plenipotentiary level and exchange the strip maps of un-demarcated sectors.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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