Fear runs high in enclaves in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar

Outsiders harassing residents to corner compensation: panel

Published - June 15, 2015 03:25 am IST - Kolkata:

Outsiders are said to be harassing residents to corner compensation. Photograph shows residents of a Bangladeshi enclave in Cooch Behar. File photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

Outsiders are said to be harassing residents to corner compensation. Photograph shows residents of a Bangladeshi enclave in Cooch Behar. File photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

As the Indian and Bangladeshi governments are set to conclude the process of exchange of enclaves by July 31, residents of some of the enclaves in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district are allegedly being harassed by anti-social elements.

Activists working in the enclaves say that due to the absence of any police and administration in the enclaves so far, these miscreants used to run extortion rackets and other illegal activities there. On June 6, both countries exchanged instruments of ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), 1974.

“Some outsiders are trying to forcefully set up houses in the enclaves to prove that they are residents there. They want to get access to the upcoming facilities and compensation that would be provided to the enclave dwellers,” Diptiman Sengupta, chief coordinator of the Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee, told The Hindu . “Now it is clear to them that they cannot continue their illegal activities any more,” he added. Over 50,000 people live in the 162 enclaves on both sides of the border.

“When we get a specific complaint about any illegal activities in these enclaves we will take action,” Superintendent of Police of Cooch Behar Rajesh Yadav told The Hindu .

In the wake of an attack on the house of a resident of the Maddha (Central) Mashaldanga enclave in the district’s Dinhata subdivision on June 7, the Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee submitted a list of 24 enclaves to the DIG of Japlpaiguri Range C.S. Lepcha. The committee demanded that proper security arrangements be made in these enclaves.

Sensitive areas

Among the 24 enclaves mentioned in the list, four had been classified as ultra high-sensitive, 14 as highly sensitive and two as sensitive. Maddha Mashaldanga also figure in the list of ultra high-sensitive ones along with Purba (East), Paschim (West), Dakshin (South) Mashaldanga and Kachua.

“The Maddha Mashaldanga enclaves have a history of such violence. Houses had been set on fire there three to four times in the past,” said Mr. Sengupta. There was still tension in the area, locals said.

As for the enclaves marked as highly sensitive, Balapukuri, Chat Kuchlibari and Panbadi in the Kuchlibari area, those who had left the enclaves earlier and settled in the Indian mainland are trying to resettle there illegally to avail themselves of the facilities. “They are also trying to get the help of local political parties to recapture land there,” said Mr. Sengupta.

Marijuana cultivation

The Powtharkuchi enclave in the Dinhata, which had a history of illegal activities such as the cultivation of marijuana, was classified as highly sensitive. “With the agreement, those who run the marijuana business fear that their business would stop. The marijuana season is just a month away and we are afraid these miscreants will create trouble,” said a resident of Powtharkuchi.

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