National Flag unfurled to loud cheers

District Magistrate of Cooch Behar P. Ulagnathan and Superintendent ofPolice Rajesh Kumar Yadav at a programme to mark the inclusion of thePoatarkuti enclave in India on Saturday. Photo: Sanjoy Ghosh  

As the National Flag was hoisted on Saturday at Poatarkuti (Cooch Behar), a Bangladeshi enclave till a day ago, a loud cheer erupted from the new citizens of the India. Shedding a stateless existence for 68 years in the enclave, hundreds of people joined in the singing of the National Anthem.

“From today, August 1, 2015, those who have opted to stay here have become Indian citizens,” District Magistrate of Cooch Behar P. Ulagnathan told the gathering after hoisting the flag. As Indian citizens, they will now enjoy the Fundamental Rights and have certain duties towards the nation, he reminded them. Similar scenes played out in all 51 enclaves, with a population of 14,854, that joined India.

The district administration will have to make arrangements for some 980 people from the Indian enclaves in Bangladesh who have expressed their wish to come to India. They will come through designated checkpoints between November 1 and 30.

“We do not want to treat them as refugees; they are our own citizens,” Mr. Ulagnathan told presspersons. They can come on exploratory visits between August and October.

The administration is working on land classification, delimitation of gram panchayats and providing connectivity, power supply and other facilities at Poatarkuti.

“The area is peaceful, and there have been no law-and-order issues,” Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar Yadav said. The exchange of enclaves marked the culmination of three decades of struggle of the Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee, an organisation that played a crucial role in the realisation of the rights of enclave dwellers.

The committee organised a grand celebration at the Masaldanga enclave on Friday, with every house lit up with candles and torches. The committee will be dissolved and a new organisation will be set up for the development of the Indian enclaves.

Recounting his years of association with the struggle, Diptiman Sengupta, assistant secretary of the committee, recalled the words of his father and former MLA, Dipak Sengupta: “The nation, for its own need, will have to give the residents of enclaves the right of citizenship.”

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 7:47:20 PM |

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