Tripura villagers hail Indo-Bangla land deal

Tripura villagers hail Indo-Bangla land deal

Away from the buzz of the India-Bangladesh land deal likely to be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bangladesh visit on June 6, people living in some disputed enclaves are happy but apprehensive of how it would affect their lives.

The deal aims at a notional transfer of 111 Indian enclaves to Bangladesh and Dhaka transferring 51 enclaves to India. In Tripura, there are two disputed enclaves – Muhurichar in South Tripura and Chandannagar in Dhalai district.

Chandannagar is one of the remotest enclaves that will come under India’s control when the deal becomes operational. It was earlier considered an Adverse Possession Land and Bangladesh laid claims to the area. “When we got the news that our village will be an integral part of India, we were overwhelmed. For all our lives, we have lived like refugees. We are saved from becoming refugees for the second time,” Ganga Kumar, one of the village elders, said.

The village is located in Kamlalpur sub-division of Dhalai district. On May 5, when the Cabinet cleared the deck, hundreds of people in Chandannagar heaved a sigh of relief. “We are very happy and it is beyond expression. Anxiety of years will come to end, but we are little apprehensive as to how the exchange will take place,” Ram Kumar, another villager said.

For decades Chandannagar has been no man’s land due to its location right on the Indo-Bangladesh border and being an ‘adverse territory’.

The village is inhabited by people from the tea tribe community who are third generation settlers. Opposite to Chandannagar is Sreemongal area of Bangladesh which is known for its tea cultivation.

During the last years of British rule, just before independence and as part of the Radcliffe Line, Chandannagar was shown to be part of Sylhet District (in erstwhile East Pakistan) in a map released on August 14, 1947. But the Royal family of Tripura, which was then a princely state never accepted Redcliffe Line and the village remained part of it. Later, when Tripura joined the Indian Union, Chandannagar became part of India. And after Bangladesh was created in 1971, Dhaka raised its objections.

Locals faced another bout of problems after India erected barbed wire fences 150 yard inside Indian territory all along the border. “As our cultivable land was on the other side of the border fencing we faced some problems,” another villager said.

Villagers have to take permission every day, depositing their identity proof to the BSF, to enter the disputed enclaves and cultivate their land. They have to return before sunset. In such an arrangement, often their golden harvest would be taken away at night by miscreants from Bangladesh.

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