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‘Liberation’ hopes soar in Bangla enclave

Five-year-old Jihad with his parents in the Modhya-moshaldanga enclave, about 50 km from Cooch Behar town.- photo: Suvojit bagchi

Five-year-old Jihad with his parents in the Modhya-moshaldanga enclave, about 50 km from Cooch Behar town.- photo: Suvojit bagchi  

Residents look ahead to Modi’s visit to Dhaka

: Enclave dwellers expect Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exchange papers with his Bangladeshi counterpart during his two-day Dhaka trip on June 6.

Formal announcement

“We expect a formal announcement of our ‘liberation’ which bypassed us in 1947 and 1971,” said 75-year-old Md. Monzur Ali Mia, president of the Poaturkuthi enclave exchange committee.

Meanwhile, at this enclave in Cooch Behar, five-year-old Jihad pointed to a worn-out comb as we entered a mid-sized room made of corrugated sheets and bamboo in Modhya-moshaldanga enclave, about 50 km south of Cooch Behar town in north Bengal.

After his mother dressed his hair, Jihad asked his mother, Asma Bibi, to pass the hand-held mirror. Satisfied, he jumped onto his mother’s lap for a photo shoot, perhaps a little unusual for a little boy. But Jihad is no average five-year-old.

Everyday practice

When he was about to be born in 2010, Asma Bibi was asked by the hospital staff to fabricate her husband’s name and address, an everyday practice for any patient from Bangladeshi Chit Mahals (enclaves) to get an admission in clinics.

“[I] told them I will die, but never fudge husband’s identity or lie about my address,” said the 28-year-old woman.

“This one action provided an impetus to liberate the enclaves,” said Diptiman Sengupta, the key activist of the group advocating peaceful exchange of enclaves.

“Today, in enclaves, we do not fudge our identity in hospitals as there is Asma Bibi’s precedence,” says a graduate and surprisingly a rag-collector Alamgir Mia of Modhya-moshaldanga. However, while Mr. Mia admitted his father without fudging documents, he is yet to receive the death certificate.

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