Illegal immigrants or enclave residents: 10 families told to ‘come up with proof’

The district administration’s ongoing field survey has thrown up details of 10 families, comprising 44 members, living in the district that do not figure in the 2011 census.

Written by Arshad Ali | Cooch Behar | Published: July 16, 2015 3:14 am

At least 10 families from Madhya Moshaldanga, a Bangladeshi enclave in Cooch Behar district, face deportation on or after July 31, when India and its neighbour begin the process of exchanging enclaves.

The district administration’s ongoing field survey has thrown up details of 10 families, comprising 44 members, living in the district that do not figure in the 2011 census. These families, according to the officials, do not have any documents to prove that they are enclave residents, and are suspected of having infiltrated from the neighbouring country. Unless they could prove that they have been staying here before and were left out in the census of 2011, these families, whom the law regards as “illegal immigrants”, will most likely be deported to Bangladesh, officials said.

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Residents, however, claim that they have always been living in the district and were even allotted house numbers in 2011, but somehow their names do not appear in the list anymore.

“They (census officials) came in 2011 and gave our house a number. Now, mysteriously, we don’t appear in the list. I have three sons, two of them have their own families but all of them are excluded from the list,” said Sukur Ali Seikh, member of one of the 10 families. He claims that their exclusion is the result of a “technical error”.

Two others, Taleb Seikh and Azibur Rahaman, claim they were allotted the same house number. “Some officers came over and marked our house as CH/11/033. Later, we found out that Azibur’s house too was marked with the same number, and we both were given metal plates with the same number,” Taleb said.

Azibur said his situation is even more troublesome as he does not have any documents to prove that he owns the land which is under his possession right now. “I got this land and the house after my marriage from my father-in-law. At that time, it was a verbal agreement and he just demarcated some area where my house got built.”

Anxiety has crept in the lives of Iman Seikh as well who lives with his wife Khabirun Bibi (22) and their five children.

“We have visited the census camp several times since July 6, we have been told that our names are not in the list. What will we do when they tell us to vacate the place and leave for Bangladesh?” he asked.

Supervisors, each of whom is monitoring five teams of officials assigned to the field survey, are not clear on what the next course of action should be under the circumstances.

“We are merely tallying the residents who come here for verification. People have been complaining about the exclusion of their names but we are helpless in this regard,” said one of the supervisors. He added that the teams had arrived here with a list of 89 families but the residents claim that 99 families have been living in the area.

Officials suspect that those who do not appear on the list are “infiltrators” who are “trying to take advantage of the situation”.

District Magistrate P Ulaganathan, however, assured that there are provisions to make amends if the exclusion of the families was indeed a clerical error. “A blank form is available where they can get themselves enlisted in case they had been left out during the last census,” he said.

900 applications from Bangla border enclaves received: Mamata

Burdwan: The West Bengal government has received applications from about 900 people from the border enclaves on the Bangladesh side who want to shift to India, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Wednesday. “We have already set up one committee. They are taking care of all of this. Till yesterday, we have received applications from 900 people or so who are willing to come to the Indian side,” Mamata said. “We have a plan to accommodate whoever is willing to come. We will give them shelter and full protection…” she said, adding, “we have plans for their education, health, etc.”  Asked about the relations between India-Bangladesh, she said the two countries share good ties which would continue unchanged. “We have a very good, cordial and emotional relationship. We want to continue this friendship and strengthen it,”  the chief minister said. (PTI)

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