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Bangladesh, India to begin enclave transfer on July 31

62Bangladesh and India will start exchanging enclaves from July 31 midnight, chosen as the “Appointed Date”.

Before that, there will be a “joint visit” to the enclaves to finalise the process, as set out in the letters the two sides exchanged on the modalities of implementing the Land Boundary Agreement 1974 and its protocol in 2011.

Both foreign ministries released the letters on Monday, a day after the departure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi, along with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, witnessed the exchange of letters on June 6, the first day of his two-day visit to Dhaka.

India recently ratified the long-pending agreement, following which Modi arrived on his maiden visit.

The ultimate transfer of the enclaves would finally end the stateless life of over 50,000 people, a status they have been suffering since 1947 following the partitioning of the subcontinent, keeping them stranded in 161 enclaves.

Residents included in the July 2011 joint headcounts and their children even born later have the rights to choose their nationality and citizenship.

Both governments agreed to ensure “orderly, safe and secure” passage to residents of enclaves along with their “personal belongings and moveable property” to the mainland of India or Bangladesh, if they want.

The shift will take place by Nov 30 this year.

Entry and exit points would be Haldabarhi, Burhimari and Banglabandha on the India-Bangladesh border.

But they have to inform the district administrations, prior to the ‘Appointed Day’, details of the records and specifications of immovable property they are in possession of.

Both the governments will ensure the “safe custody and integrity” of land records and other immovable properties of them until the date of actual transfer.

The district administrations will put these records in the public domain prior to their moving to avoid “misuse or usurpation” of such property and to enable sale by the owner.

The existing mechanism of India-Bangladesh Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG) will finalise all further details.

The same mechanism will be used to address any issue that may arise after the transfer for the next five years until June 2020.

The demarcation of the undemarcated boundary and adversely possessed land would be completed by June 30 next year, based on the 2011 protocols.