India, Bangladesh swap enclaves in historic land deal
India and Bangladesh swapped tiny islands of land, ending the decade long dispute. Officials of the two nations hoisted their respective national flags in the swapped enclaves at one minute past midnight (1801 GMT on Friday) to assume sovereignty. Following this, the people living there now have access to citizenship benefits like schools, power and healthcare that they lacked since 1947.
The government introduced the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) (Constitutional Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The LBA Bill aimed to redraw the international boundary between India and Bangladesh by exchanging areas of enclaves. The people in these enclaves would continue living at their current residences and would be accepted by the respective countries as their citizens.
Once LBA comes into force, India will transfer 111 enclaves (17,160.63 acres) to Bangladesh in return for 51 enclaves (7,110.2 acres). An enclave is an area surrounded by another nation.
PM Modi said that his government would go ahead with UPA's LBA to sort out infiltration issues. He assured Assam that it will be a beneficial decision for the state's future. According to the PM, it will also aid job generation in the north-east. He denied any compromises with the country's security due to LBA.
Assam CMs request came amidst reports that the Modi government was looking to exclude Assam from implementation of the LBA. In September 2011, Tarun Gogoi had accompanied PM Manmohan Singh to Dhaka to sign the protocol. The centre's decision to not consult Assam before keeping it out of the LBA, surprised Gogoi.
Both the houses passed the LBA - Constitution 119th Amendment Bill, 2013 earlier in the week. But since the name of the bill needs to be changed to Constitution 100th Amendment Act, 2015, from Constitution 119th Amendment Act, 2013, it will be passed again in both the houses. It was introduced as the 119th amendment but was the 100th amendment bill to be passed.
RSS wants the borders with Bangladesh to be sealed after LBA is signed to reduce infiltration. It warned that north-east may witness a J&K like situation if the borders are not sealed. It alleged that over 1.5 crore Bangladeshis are residing in India. It also said that Hindus have to face violence due to these immigrants.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee will accompany Narendra Modi to Dhaka next week to ink the land boundary pact with Bangladesh. The meeting could also see a discussion on the Teesta water-sharing issue. In September 2011, Mamata Banerjee refused to accompany Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh to sign the river water-sharing agreement.
India and Bangladesh sealed the land boundary agreement to swap territories allowing thousands of people living in the border enclaves to choose their nationality. The deal was made operational by signing of the protocol by the foreign secretaries of the two countries in presence of PM Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheik Hasina. The deal permanently fixes the contours of the 4000km long border.