The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Enclave solution for a price

Fulbari (Indo-Bangla border), Aug. 29: Residents of Indian enclaves might soon find a solution to their problems, but at the cost of their citizenship.

Union minister of state for home S. Regupathy, who visited the border areas of the region today, said bipartite talks between the governments have already started to resolve the decade-old crisis of enclave dwellers.

“A team of officials from Survey of India will visit the Indian enclaves by the first week of next month to assess the geographical location and carve out a clear picture,” Regupathy said at the BSF camp here, 10 km from Siliguri.

However, senior BSF officials indicated that once the problem is sorted out, the fate of the enclave residents would depend on international statutes.

“It is a tricky issue. There is a probability that the citizenship might change. Once the governments reach a consensus as to what to do with the enclaves, certain modalities to decide the residents’ status will be fixed according to international guidelines,” S.R. Tewari, inspector-general, BSF, north Bengal frontier, told The Telegraph.

According to intelligence reports, there are some 130 Indian enclaves while the figure of Bangladesh enclaves are less than 100.

Due to the peculiar geographical set-up of these holdings, Indian police never get entry to these areas while the same can be said for the Bangladeshi forces. As a result enclaves on both sides have become haven for militant outfits, BSF intelligence reports said. Some of the Indian enclaves are located at Dahala, Khagrabari and Basuniapara in Debiganj district of Bangladesh, the reports added. On this side of the border, Bangladeshi enclaves exist in Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts.

Admitting that massive infiltration of Bangladeshis has become a perpetual problem, Regupathy said the UPA government has taken an initiative to complete border fencing across the country by the next year. He said Bengal has 2,216.70 km of border with Bangladesh. “Of the sanctioned 1,528 km stretch, fencing of 1,500 km has already been completed,” he added.

A pilot project has also been started in 12 states — including Bengal — to issue identity cards to villagers of bordering districts, the minister said.

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