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How a game of chess between King of Cooch Behar and Maharaja of Rangpur created India-Bangladesh border issue

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By Harshmeet Singh

India’s historic land swap deal with Bangladesh was perhaps one of the very few instances where the current Government gave due credit to its predecessor. During the recent discussions about the constitutional amendment bill in the Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister said, “I have said this before and I’m saying it again that this work was started by Manmohan Singh and we are only completing it.”

After hectic consultations and short lived blame game, the Government decided to include the Bangladeshi territories lying in Assam in the agreement as well. While the experts are terming this constitutional amendment as a ‘success’, majority of the common public is still clueless as to what this agreement exactly holds.

What exactly is the issue here?

Unlike most other nations, India and Bangladesh share a complex border. Fortunately, this ‘complexity’ isn’t due to any disagreement on where the actual border lies. It is the placement of these ‘well-accepted’ borders that gives birth to these complexities.

There are a number of enclaves on in the northern part of the border shared by India and Bangladesh. Enclaves are small pieces of land surrounded from all sides by a foreign country. The most famous enclave in the world is the Vatican City, which is located inside Italy’s capital, Rome. Another example is the Kingdom of Lesotho, which is located inside South Africa.

There are 106 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh. The largest among them is Dasiar Chhara which has an area of 6.65 square km. Bangladesh, on the other hand, has 92 enclaves in India, with the largest one being 25.95 square km. And that is not all! There are many counter enclaves and counter-counter enclaves as well. On the Indian side, these enclaves are located in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura.

How did it all mess up?

There is no proven historical record about the exact happenings that led to this border situation. It is said that these enclaves came into being as a result of exchanges during chess matches between King of Cooch Behar and Maharaja of Rangpur. The final shape of the enclaves was a part of a treaty between the Mughal Kingdom and the King of Cooch Behar in 1713. During partition, Cooch Behar came to India whereas Rangpur went to erstwhile East Pakistan. Due to constant trouble with Pakistan, these issues were never looked into till 1971.

The history of negotiations

The land swap deal came on the table for the first time in 1974 when Mujibur Rehman and Indira Gandhi signed an agreement to exchange the respective enclaves. Under this agreement, India provided a narrow strip of land to Bangladesh to provide access to its Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves in India. This narrow strip of land is called ‘Teen Bigha Corridor’. While Bangladesh was quick to ratify the agreement in its national parliament, India could never get it passed.

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In 2011, Manmohan Singh signed a ‘border demarcation’ and ‘enclaves exchange’ agreement with Sheikh Hasina. The UPA 2 Government tried to push forward the 1974 agreement in the Parliament and get it ratified, but it was vehemently opposed by the BJP. The move also saw sharp opposition from other parties including Trinamool Congress and Asom Gana Parishad. The BJP, in fact, in 2011, said that such exchange would be a ‘national loss’ to the country! Even this time, there were multiple hiccups in the passage of the bill, with the NDA Government keeping Assam out of the agreement till the very last moment.

What does it mean for the people living in those enclaves?

According to a joint census in July 2010, there were 37,269 Indian citizens in Indian enclaves and 14,215 Bangladeshi citizens in its enclaves in India. Residents of these enclaves live in despicable conditions. With no connection with their own Government, basic amenities such as electricity and healthcare are a distant possibility for them. They can’t cross over to their own nation since it would mean that they are entering foreign land without permissions.

The land swap agreement is expected to change the lives of over 50,000 people for the better. All those residing in the Bangladeshi enclaves in India shall be granted Indian citizenship in accordance with the section-7 of the ‘Indian Citizenship Act, 1955’. This act provides Indian citizenship to the population residing in territories incorporated in India. The same section was applied when Sikkim was incorporated into India in 1975.

With both countries promising a favourable treatment to the residents of each other’s enclaves, much migration across the border isn’t expected once the agreement is implemented on the ground. This agreement would also help in keeping a check on infiltration and illegal entry of narcotics and other banned commodities across the border. Although India would lose about 40 kilometres square land in the deal, the final resolution to the long lingering issue is worth the cost.

  • Urvashi

    Extremely enlightening. Brilliant piece!

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Virus of Hatred and Insanity Wreaking Havoc With the Preventive Measures in India

All you need to know about the Tablighi congregation at Nizamuddin

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The Tablighi Jamaat congregation has created a havoc in India.

By SALIL GEWALI

Why is the WORLD on lockdown now? It is exclusively intended to keep away from any XYZ who might have infected with COVID-19 and thus contain the deadly pandemic as soon as possible. To combat the outbreak how much “monetary loss” each nation has been incurring each day is unprecedented and unimaginable. Here the main concern being to “save” the lives of the citizens at any rate. Yes, each nation-state considers each life of a citizen as “precious” as anything.

But look at the situation arising out of the Tablighi congregation at Nizamuddin, New Delhi,India and its immediately aftermath. It has raised many questions than answers. What is very disgusting is some of the members of the organization caught “repeatedly spitting” from the windows of the bus as reported by “Hindustan Times” and other news media. Some members directly spat on a “woman” calling her ‘coronavirus’. The members did not even heed to the requests from the elderly people and doctors. Finally, police had to forcefully close the windows of the bus.

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Well, everyone knows that COVID-19 spreads through droplets that come out from our mouths. So, to prevent the possible infection from the fluid droplets we strictly ensure that we cover our mouths with masks. The whole world is doing that. But why this godless act by “certain” members of the religious attendees of Tablighi in New Delhi thereby putting other public potentially at risk. Why such an evil motive, who all are encouraging such things?

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Well, a very learned scholar and also the Governor of Kerala,India, Arif Mohammad Khan described the non-cooperation of the certain Muslim community as a “crime against the nation and humanity.”

Was that elaborate religious congregation not mean to teach us how to be more conscious as a human being and to be compassionate towards other “fellow beings”? What is appalling at this hour of crisis is that there are many Mosques in India which are deliberately “defying” the lockdown order and observing the regular namazs and mindlessly encouraging mass gathering. Some have attacked police while in some states the medical doctors or their assistants associated with the quarantine care have been disrespected, abused and manhandled. Mindless stone-pelting upon the doctors and police have been reported from several states in the country. Why are such disgustingly inhumane behaviors arising from the community of a particular faith only? Why are certain people so uncouth and so uncooperative? Can the pandemic catastrophe be put down by such inhumane behaviors? Will it not be “irreligious” itself when the people, be it from any faiths, recklessly contribute to the suffering of others?

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Further, will GOD “saves ones” who have not taken the preventive measures? Absolutely not. God has given a human being the “brain” in order to decide judiciously what to do and what not to do. God will never descend from heaven to save if we abuse ourselves. About 10 members from the Tablighi Jamaat have already died from Coronavirus. Is it not the loss of precious lives for which we should “mourn”? Is it not a loss for the nation as a whole?

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Due to the religious congregation, many new COVID-19 cases have been reported in India.

Many infected persons from the Jamaat are potentially likely to infect others healthy which might multiply progressively, some of them have already dispersed to their respective states started causing problems as already been reported from the states like Bihar and Gujarat. Some are attacking police personals by violating the lockdown. Is the fundamental teaching of all religions not for the well-being and wellness of each human being on the planet? One wonders why such godless acts are being encouraged, or tolerated! Is tolerating the forces with sinister motives not sin in itself?  Well, a very learned scholar and also the Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammad Khan described the non-cooperation of the certain Muslim community as a “crime against the nation and humanity.”

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Here is another “shocker” published by Indian Today about a week back. An Infosys software engineer from Bangalore Mujeeb Mohammad appealed through his facebook by writing – “Let’s join hands, go out and sneeze with open mouth in public.

Also Read- Munish Raizada Films’ Debut Political Documentary- Transparency: Pardarshita, The Untold Series of IAC & AAP Released

Spread the virus.” How shall we describe this motive? What is in store for us in this 21st Century? Mind out, if such “insanity of hatred” is let to rear its ugly head, the sanity will certainly die a death. The virus of insanity could be more dangerous than Coronavirus. It will directly attack the very LUNGS and HEART of the Nation, and humanity at large.

An India-based writer and researcher, Salil Gewali is best known for his research-based work entitled Great minds on India which has earned worldwide appreciations. Translated into twelve languages, his book has been prefaced by a world-acclaimed NASA Chief scientist – Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of Houston, USA.

[ Disclaimer: The pictures used in the article are supplied by the author, NewsGram has no intention of infringing copyrights. ]