Enclave dwellers, now temporarily settled in relief camps here, have decided to demand, among many other things, a trainer to teach them the national anthem and doing away with the idea of constructing multi-storied flats for their permanent accommodation on Indian mainland.
“We need a simple house on a plot of land of at least four cottahs,” some enclave dwellers told The Statesman.
A total of 478 people, including 231 female and 137 children, have taken shelter at the Haldibari Enclave Settlement Camp (ESC). A total of 921 enclave dwellers arrived in three relief camps in Cooch Behar district since 19 November. Altogether 989 persons were scheduled to settle in India within the stipulated time frame after the execution of the Land Boundary Agreement-1974 through exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh.
At the Haldibari ESC, Joydeb Roy, who came to settle in India from Nazirganj enclave in Bangladesh, said: “The government should provide us a simple house in a plot of land measuring four cottahs. People here do not want flats/apartments. We are not habituated in living in multi-storeyed flats. We are in fact people of the soil and live with the land where we can always cultivate something.”
“We had made this request to the district administration in India when the enclave exchange process had started when the former district magistrate, Smaraki Mahapatra, was there,” Roy said, adding, “We have requested the administration here to teach the children how to sing the Indian national anthem, Jana Gana Mana…, because they are habituated to sing the Aamar Sonal Bangla Ami Tomay Bhalobasi.”
Diptiman Sengupta, an activist who fought for the implementation of the LBA 1974, and who is still fighting for the rights of enclave dwellers, said that the concept of a multi-storeyed housing complex for these people is “good for nothing.”
“Is there any problem related to land for their final accommodation in the rural belt? The government should try to set up a model village for them where there is a chance of development for the area.The government may look for land on either side of the road connecting Haldibari through a proposed bridge over the Teesta,”Sengupta added.
Administrative officials here are, meanwhile, keeping in touch with the enclave residents so as to provide them with stuff that they need. However, despite the efforts, some important tasks are being delayed due to technical problems, it is learnt.
“We should not do anything in a hurry. We do not want enclave people to get in trouble in the future. We are waiting for a proper government notification to carry out such tasks like issuing the Aadhar Card,” said a senior official. “We will shortlist the problems and propose the government for necessary action,” said a senior official. Official sources said that some enclave people here have come with educational certificates from Bangladesh.
“They had to study in Bangladesh with false names by showing addresses in Bangladesh. Educational authorities have issued the certificates in their false names, which are not the same as the names recorded in the official list as Indian citizens.”