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Citizenship cards: About 3,000 enclave dwellers to intensify stir

Kolkata: Demanding citizenship rights, around 3,000 enclave dwellers will gherao the district magistrate's office on Wednesday so that the state government speaks with the Centre to speed up the process of issuing their citizenship cards.

The enclave dwellers are yet to receive citizenship rights 5 years after the historic land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh. They have been protesting against the Centre government for a year.

Noor Nabi, a resident of Batrigach Fragment Dinhata 1 of Coochbehar, said: "We have voter identity cards as well as Aadhar cards. But we have not got our citizenship cards. As we have not received our citizenship card, we are yet to get proper land documents. Without proper land documents, we cannot buy or sell any land. This is hampering our livelihood."

According to Nabi, they were told that they would be provided with the citizenship cards by the Union Home Ministry. But, such assurances existed only on paper.

The enclaves were merged with the Indian mainland in July 2015 as per the Land Boundary Agreement signed between India and Bangladesh.

Bindeshwar Burman, another enclave dweller, said: "We will strengthen our movement if both the state government and Centre fail to address our demand. If we do not receive our citizenship cards, then we may launch a hunger-strike."

For residents of the 51 enclaves, the key issues are non-availability of land documents and no rehabilitation package or jobs.

According to Nabi, though they had received all facilities provided by the state government including benefits of the welfare schemes, it was getting difficult for them to stay without citizenship cards.

The land boundary agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh paved the way for the resolution of the 7-decades-long problem of enclaves between the 2 countries.

About 14,854 residents living in 51 Bangladesh enclaves— deep in the territory of India— became Indian nationals, and about 922 persons came from Indian enclaves in Bangladesh to Coochbehar district 5 years back.

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