History at midnight: How the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement was sorted out

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History has been created at the stroke of midnight. 14,856 residents who were in Bangladeshi enclaves on Indian territory got a nationality. They have all become Indians and this has put an end to the agony which lasted several decades.

The long standing issue of enclaves between India and Bangladesh had been resolved. The Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 was finally resolved and this comes as a relief to several persons who were living on the wrong side of the border.

How Land Boundary Agreement was sorted?

What is the Land Boundary Agreement?

India and Bangladesh have a common boundary of around 4096.7 kilometres. The land boundary between the Indian and then East Pakistan boundary was determined by the Radcliffe Award of 1974.

However, some disputes came up over this award. On May 16 1974 an agreement was signed between India and Bangladesh and it was decided that a solution to the dispute would be found.

The agreement was ratified by Bangladesh, but India restrained. As per the agreement India would retain half of of Berubari Union No. 12 while Bangladesh in exchange would retain the Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves.

Further the agreement also stated that India would have to lease to Bangladesh a small area near Dahagram and Angarpota.

The problem with the enclaves

The problem with the enclaves post partition was that there were 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh which was around 17,160.63 acres. In Bangladesh there are 51 enclaves which was around 7,110.02 acres.

The problem is that these people living in the enclaves were on the wrong side of the border. They did not enjoy full legal rights and even do not have access to proper facilities.

According to the Land Boundary Agreement those people living in these enclaves have the right to stay where they are as nationals. The problem was that in the Indian enclaves there are Bangladeshis living and in the Bangladeshi enclaves it is vice versa.

When a joint delegation of India and Bangladesh had visited these enclaves in 2007, the residents told them that they would not want to move across and prefer to live where they have been living. The issue of adverse possession.

The adverse possession was the contagious issue. The issue is that there is territory which is under India's control but is legally part of Bangladesh.

All those residing in this adverse possession are Indian citizens. The case is similar in Bangladesh as well. India was meant to get 2,777.038 acres of land. India was then meant to transfer 2267.682 acres to Bangladesh.

In the year 2011, a protocol was signed between the two countries. As per this agreement it was decided that those living along the border are not to be dislodged or moved. However due to various factors the agreement did not move forward and both countries decided to maintain status quo.

Taking into account the uncertainties of the people living in these areas a Constitutional amendment was approved.

After the Land Boundary Agreement was cleared by the Lok Sabha both India and Bangladesh can acquire the enclaves within its own borders and also other disputed territories. The people living on the wrong side of the border now have the right to move to their respective countries- India and Bangladesh.

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