Indo-Bangla joint headcount survey in disputed enclaves

Indo-Bangla joint headcount survey in disputed enclaves

"The Bangladesh side constituted 10 committees comprising concerned officials and we now await Indian response to launch the headcount survey in enclaves as soon as possible," Kamaluddin Ahmed, the joint secretary in the Home Ministry, told PTI.

Ahmed, who was the co-chair of Joint Boundary Working Group and Joint Working Group that concluded last Thursday, said Indian officials assured Dhaka of constituting identical teams to carry out the survey ahead of the planned Bangladesh visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in next few months.

Last week, the Home Secretaries of the two countries discussed ways to expedite the process of exchanges agreed between the two neighbours under a 1974 agreement.

Bangladesh and India agreed to sort out all problems related to the common border within the next two months, ahead of the visit by Singh.

Bangladesh Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikdar, who held a crucial two-day talks with his Indian counterpart Gopal K Pillai last week, said all border and security related issues were discussed in the meeting and both the sides are working sincerely to resolve the ongoing problems in shortest possible time.

Officials familiar with the process earlier said the surveyors would use a simple form of head count of residents of the enclaves for the first time sine the 1947 Partition of the Indian sub-continent.
Bangladesh and India share over 4,000 kilometers of common porous border, of which 6.1 kilomtres were still to be demarcated. The two countries have 162 such enclaves, 111 of them being Indian inside Bangladesh and the rest 51 being Bangladeshi inside India.

The population of the 111 Indian enclaves was unofficially estimated to be over a lakh on 17,000 acres of land while the 51 Bangladeshi enclaves inside India have 44,000 people on 7,000 acres.
Officials said 3,000 acres of Bangladesh land are inside India while India has around 3,500 acres of land inside Bangladesh.

The enclave residents need to cross international border every day for cultivation and have to follow official formalities as well as clearance from the paramilitary border guards of the two countries.
Ahmed said most of the residents of the enclaves earlier agreed to change their nationalities under the exchange plans, but would be given another chances to opt for migration once the exchanges were made.

"Despite a popular notion that the exchange problem was created in 1947, actually these enclaves were created during the British rule 300 years ago when the kings of native states handed over pieces to their counterparts in neghbouring states losing bounty after losing in gambling," the Bangladeshi joint secretary said.

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