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Updated on: Friday, May 31, 2019, 03:46 PM IST

Bengal enclave-dwellers to cast first-ever vote!

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Coochbehar (WB) : In a virtual no-man’s land ever since India became independent in 1947, more than 9,000 persons living in 51 enclaves in Coochbehar district will exercise their franchise for the first time on May five.

Excitement is palpable among the voters, who till recently belonged to no country and hence were devoid of any right belonging to a citizen. Their enclaves were formally declared Indian territory after the exchange of enclaves with Bangladesh on August one, last year. Chief Coordinator of Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee Diptiman Sengupta, who has been fighting for the rights of the enclave dwellers for a long time, said the voters were confronted with two big issues: Job reservation and quick disposal of land settlement.   “There are near about 15,000 people in the enclaves who have got Indian citizenship. Out of them, 9,776 are eligible voters who will vote for the first time,” Sengupta said.

He told PTI that the people there want at least 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and that all development work in the enclaves be carried out through the active involvement of the residents. Sengupta said that another important demand of the people of the enclaves is quick disposal of land settlement.

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“The 51 enclaves became Indian territory, but the enclave dwellers (14864), who became Indian citizens were yet to get the rights of the land they were living in,” he said.  Bangladesh and India exchanged 162 adversely-held enclaves on August one at the stroke of midnight, ending one of the world’s most complex border disputes. In all 111 Indian enclaves measuring 17,160 acres became Bangladesh territory and similarly 51 Bangladesh enclaves, measuring 7,110 acres, became Indian territory. The 51 enclaves are spread across Dinhata, Mekliganj, Sitai, Sitalkuchi and Toofanganj Assembly constituencies.

24-year-old the Joynal Abedin, an enclave-dweller, said they were demanding reservation in government jobs, irrespective of religion. “We also want that all contracts for development work like construction of roads, buildings, hospitals and schools in the enclaves should be given to local residents only.”

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Published on: Wednesday, May 04, 2016, 12:03 AM IST
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