Security, a prime concern after enclaves exchange

A senior official of State Intelligence Bureau said they are already on the job to collect ground zero intelligence on this matter.

August 02, 2015 09:43 am | Updated November 17, 2021 11:07 am IST - Kolkata

With the long-awaited swapping of enclaves between >India and Bangladesh now complete, ensuring security so that these areas do not become a hub of anti-national activities seems to be of prime concern of security agencies.

“Security in those enclaves which are now part of India is of topmost priority to check illegal entrants from Bangladesh or JMB modules operating in Bengal...,” Pradip Bhattacharya, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, told PTI .

“I have already written to the Union Home Ministry that security in coordination with IB, BSF and state police should be strengthened so that anti-national elements can’t use this as an opportunity. I have serious apprehensions regarding this issue,” he said.

Bhattacharya’s concern was echoed by a senior official of State Intelligence Bureau, who said it is already on the job to collect ground zero intelligence on this matter.

“Obviously security is a concern when you have such a porous border. We have earmarked three areas from where the residents from Indian enclaves in Bangladesh will be entering as of now. We also have a set up our camp in the areas to ensure a strict vigil and have regular reports of ground level situation,” a senior state IB official said on the condition of anonymity.

The IB official said that the state security agencies along with central agencies including BSF are working in coordination to ensure proper security mechanism to be put in place so that the enclaves, which for long has been devoid of any proper nationality, doesn’t turn into a hot bed of anti-India activities.

Bangladesh and India exchanged 162 adversely-held enclaves on August 1 at the stroke of midnight, ending one of the world’s most complex border disputes that had lingered since seven decades. One hundred and eleven Indian enclaves measuring 17,160 acres became Bangladesh territory and similarly, 51 Bangladesh enclaves measuring 7,110 acres became Indian territory. All the Indian enclaves are located in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district.

The exchange of enclaves was made possible under the Land Boundary Agreement signed between the two countries recently.

Although 14,000 people staying in Bangladeshi enclaves in India have opted to stay in India, only near about 979 have opted to return to India out of the estimated 37,000 people living in Indian enclaves in Bangladesh.

“Right now we have few more companies of BSF in Cooch Behar district and they will be staying for quite some time. The concern is not regarding those 979 people who will be coming here as they will have proper permits. But after this process gets over the issue of safety and security and ensuring that no unruly elements make its way to enclaves is to be looked into,” Cooch Behar District Magistrate P Ulaganathan said.

A senior BSF official said that the agency has beefed up its vigil on the Indo-Bangla border in the Coochbehar area and extra deployment of forces has been done to ensure that ’unwanted’ elements don’t use it as a scope to make an illegal entry.

The state police, however, sounded hopeful of tackling any security issue in the enclaves in the days to come.

“We have more companies of BSF there and there is extra state police too and we are fully prepared to counter and stop any untoward incident in enclaves,” IG (law and order) Anuj Sharma told PTI.

Chief Coordinator of Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee, Diptiman Sengupta, who has been fighting hard for the cause of the people living in the enclaves, felt that for next few months till the entire process of transfers of residents is over no private NGOs should be allowed to work in the region.

“I have written to the government that private NGOs should be barred from working in enclaves untill the process is entirely complete,” he said.

Sengupta also said that those who will be entering India from Bangladesh to settle down in Indian side of enclaves after the exchange should go through proper medical check up and should be allowed only after a proper background check.

Additional District magistrate of Coochbehar, Chiranjib Ghosh told PTI that medical camps will be set up in the enclaves for proper regular health check ups of the enclave dwellers.

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