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At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is raising the pitch against illegal infiltration into West Bengal, people residing in enclaves (stateless hamlets on either side of the border) have demanded the ratification of Land Border Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh to seal the borders and end infiltration. The Bill to ratify LBA in Parliament has met with opposition on the ground that India stands to lose few thousand acres of land.
Hundreds of posters demanding the settlement of the issue regarding the enclaves greeted BJP’s State president Rahul Sinha when he visited Cooch Behar district on Sunday.
Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee (BBEECC) had put up several banners in Cooch Behar on Sunday. “We demand the ratification of LBA (Land Boundary Agreement) to stop infiltration in the interest of national security,” read a statement on a bi-lingual banner.
Diptiman Sengupta, assistant secretary of BBEECC told The Hindu that if policy makers are serious about illegal infiltration then they must ratify the LBA at the earliest
He pointed out that while 51 Bangladeshi enclaves with about 14,000 residents are located deep inside Indian territory in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district, 111 Indian enclaves with a population of 38,000 are located in four districts of Bangladesh. “Is it possible to insulate the borders and stop infiltration if such a situation persists?” Mr Sengupta asked.
A Bill envisaging the LBA was tabled in Parliament in November 2013, during the previous United Progressive Alliance government. It is yet to be passed by Parliament.
Mansur Ali, a resident of Poatarkuti enclave located in Indian territory, told The Hindu that the idea to put up these posters is to remind our leaders that when they talk about infiltration they should keep in mind that people like us also exists.
“Our fathers and grandfathers fought against the British for the country’s independence and now we are denied the status of citizens,” he said.
The BJP leadership is tight-lipped on the issue. “We are in favour of settlement of enclaves but we cannot speak much on it as it a bilateral issue,” Hemchandra Barrman, BJP Cooch Behar district president said.
Members of the BBEECC and locals said that the BJP which is beginning its membership drive across the State from this week has been planning to start a campaign against infiltration from Cooch Behar, but as people here are putting more emphasis on settlement of the border issue they are not vocal about it.
When contacted BJP State president Rahul Sinha The Hindu that his visit to Cooch Behar was not aimed only at infiltration but a host of other organisational and political issues.
From: The Hindu