A group of progressive Bangladeshi NGOs, along with some Indian representatives and local district administration officials organized a candlelight vigil to mark the eighth anniversary of the historic event of exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh. The event, held on Monday, was attended by district officials of Rangpur and Kurigram, as well as NGOs Uddipan and North Bengal Museum, and saw people from all walks of life gather in 111 enclaves, which are now in Bangladesh.
The Land Boundary Agreement of 2015 resolved the long-pending issue of the enclaves in adverse possession of India and Bangladesh. Under the agreement signed in Dhaka in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, the two countries swapped these small enclaves along the border. Their residents are deprived of public services and live in unsanitary conditions. According to the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), “The historic agreement facilitated the transfer of 111 enclaves totalling 17,160.63 acres from India to Bangladesh. In contrast, India received 51 enclaves, comprising 7,110.02 acres of land, which were in Bangladesh.
It added, “The 2015 LBA implements unresolved issues arising out of Undemarcated land boundary of about 6.1 km length in the three sectors. Daikhata-56 (West Bengal), Muhuri River-Belonia (Tripura) and Lathitila-Dumbari (Assam); exchange of territories; and Adverse Assets, which were first addressed in the 2011 Protocol”. The Land Boundary Agreement was intended to improve the lives of the people living in these enclaves, which had been virtually stateless since 1947. For decades, they were denied their basic rights to education, health and other services.