This Article is From Jun 10, 2015

No Longer an Enclave, Indians Opt for Dhaka

In 111 enclaves in Bangladesh that were Indian till Saturday, people are still celebrating their homecoming.

Kolkata: The excitement over the Land Boundary Agreement may have ebbed in Delhi and Dhaka, but in 111 enclaves in Bangladesh that were Indian till Saturday, people are still celebrating their homecoming.

"Delhi or Dhaka?" is the slogan raised at Dashiar Chorra, an Indian enclave in Bangladesh's Kurigram district.

The resounding answer shouted back, "Dhaka Dhaka."

The 7500 Indians at Dashiar Chorra have chosen. They have decided to stay in Bangladesh, So have most of the 35,000 Indian enclave dwellers.

Their new flag aloft, they are bursting into sporadic rallies to celebrate an identity at last.

"When Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina exchanged the land boundary agreement, we thanked Allah that after many years we had been finally freed from a cage. Now we will be counted as independent citizens of this country," says MD Moinul Haq, president of the Bangladesh Bharat Enclave Exchange Cooperative Committee.

21-year-old Abdul Mannan, who works at a small grocery shop, hopes he can join the Bangladesh Army. He almost did, doing well at the local army training school. But once identified as an enclave dweller, he was rejected.

"I felt very sad. My friends got jobs I didn't. Now that since this enclave has become Bangladesh, I beg the prime minister to give me that job," says Abdul.

Enclave dwelling teenage girls who are studying in Bangladeshi schools say they got admission using false birth certificates. Now that embarrassment will end.

"We had to live. We had to get an education. So we gave false identities and somehow got false birth certificates and went to school," says Ayesha.

Did they ever think of going into India instead of staying on in Bangladesh? The Land Boundary deal gives them a choice. But no, say most.

50-year-old Pratap Chandra Barman has land which he farms. "I have land, some supari trees, I have property here. If I go there, will I get anything? It is very uncertain. I doubt what the government will give. I am better off here. I was born here. I am a citizen," he says.

Ghulam Mustafa, an enclave activist, is equally unequivocal. "Till 4:20 on Saturday, we were Indians. We never thought of going to India. Our umbilical cord is here in this enclave. This is our birthplace. We never want to leave here ever. "

For 41 years, the Delhi or Dhaka debate had raged for the people of Dashiar Chorra enclave, but now the die has been cast, the choice has been made. People, who were Indians till Saturday, have now decided to throw in lot with Bangladesh.