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Enclaves erased from maps of Bangladesh, India

33The Bangladesh flag is up and flying at Panchagarh’s Garati Village on Saturday.

Until Friday midnight, this was Indian territory. The villagers were officially Indian citizens, but did not enjoy any basic rights.

The red and green flag was hoisted in the 111 enclaves in the Northern districts of Panchagarh, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari and Kurigram on Saturday amid much jubilant celebrations.

The swap of  162  ‘land islands’  between India and Bangladesh after Friday midnight ends one of the world’s most intractable border disputes.

With the swap of enclaves between two countries, around 50,000 people have finally been able to get rid of the ignominy of being nobody’s people in a no man’s land.

According to the Land Boundary Agreement between the two neighbours, from Aug 1, some 17,160 acres of Indian land within Bangladesh territory became part of it.

Similarly, 51 Bangladeshi enclaves spread over nearly 7,110 acres within India became part of that country.

A joint India-Bangladesh headcount in mid-2011 found Bangladeshi enclaves had around 14,000 residents while the Indian enclaves were home to 37,000.

The highest number of Indian enclaves in Bangladesh was in Lalmonirhat— a total of 59— while 36 in Panchagarh, 12 in Kurigram and four in Nilphamari.

With the historic land swap, residents of these enclaves have been finally recognised as Bangladesh nationals.

However, around 1,000 enclave dwellers have opted for Indian citizenship while none from the Bangladeshi enclaves in India wanted to relocate to Bangladesh territory.

Panchagarh’s acting Deputy Commissioner and police chief attended the flag hoisting ceremony at the former Garati enclave in the Sadar Upazila.

The flag was hoisted around 6am followed by the national anthem.

Meanwhile, amid rains at Lalmonirhat’s Vitorkuti-Bonschopai enclaves the Bangladesh flag was hoisted.

Women’s reserved seat MP Safura Begum Rumi hoisted the red and green flag at the ceremony attended by acting Deputy Commissioner Abu Taher Md Masud Rana, Additional Police Superintendent Shahadat Hossain and district unit Awami League president Mataiyar Rahman.

Nilphamari-1 MP Aftab Uddin Sarkar hoisted the national flag followed by the national anthem performed by the dwellers of the four former enclaves in Dimla Upazila.

In Kurigram, the national flag hoisting ceremony was held at Dashiarchharha of Fulbarhi Upazila, one of the biggest former Indian enclaves.

Upazila administration chief Nasir Uddin Mahmud hoisted the flag as the national anthem was sung by locals.