In a first, 76 residents of Indian enclaves in Bangladesh have come over to Cooch Behar to do a recce of the area where they would be rehabilitated, months after the Land Boundary Agreement was officially implemented by the two countries.
While 39 people had come over late Wednesday, 37 more arrived on Thursday. Among the 39 who arrived on Wednesday, while two went to Siliguri to stay with their relatives, the district administration arranged for food and accommodation for the rest.
“We have arranged for their stay at the Dinhata municipality. They will take a look at the area where they would be rehabilitated. They can make multiple trips till November 30,” said Cooch Behar District Magistrate P Ulaganathan.
Post November 30, the physical exchange of people is set to begin. Citizens from Indian enclaves in Bangladesh will be accommodated in houses that are being readied in Dinhata.
Ulaganathan said residents of Bangladeshi enclaves in India were being issued documents of identity. “Over 1,000 people have been issued job cards while more than 900 have got new bank accounts. Preparations to construct roads in these areas are on. We have also written to the Election Commission for their voter identity cards but there has been no reply so far,” he added.
Mijanur Rehman, who had arrived from Bangladesh on Wednesday night, said their arrival was delayed for several hours following complications. “In Bangladesh, we were asked to pay Rs 535 each for travel visa. But we refused as we were not going to India for travelling purposes. Several rounds of discussions were held but ultimately we had to pay,” he claimed.
He added that they were trying to streamline the process of selling their properties in Bangladesh before coming over to India. “We have sought government’s intervention in the matter. I hope authorities there will do something about it,” Rehman said.
He claimed that many have submitted a deputation to the Indian deputy high commissioner in Bangladesh alleging that they were being forcefully detained there as they wanted to come over to India. “There are at least 1,000 such cases,” he said.
While Ulaganathan said he doesn’t know about the matter, Dinhata SDO Sajal Kumar Sarkar said he had heard that such a deputation has been submitted to the deputy high commissioner. “I have heard it from my sources. There has been no official confirmation though.”