Agartala, Sep 11: Even as India gave away to Bangladesh 110 of the 111 enclaves and in return received 51 enclaves at midnight on July 31, one enclave – Tripura’s Muhurichar – still remains undecided.
As part of the implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 and its 2011 Protocol, India was scheduled to give away to Bangladesh 17,160 acres, covering 111 enclaves and in return India received 7,110 acres comprising 51 enclaves.
On the intervening night of July 31 and August 1, around 52,000 inhabitants of 162 enclaves in Bangladesh and India got the taste of freedom for the first time in 68 years, officially becoming citizens of either of the two nations. Of the 162 enclaves, two — southern Tripura’s Muhurichar scheduled to go to Bangladesh and northern Tripura’s Chandannagar — were projected to remain with India.
“There is no problem over Chandannagar. But as the Survey of India along with its Bangladeshi counterpart unilaterally demarcated the ‘Muhurichar’ without any consultation and contact with the Tripura government, the area has remained undecided so far,” Tripura’s revenue and PWD minister Badal Choudhury told.
He said : “An inconclusive meeting was held in Dhaka last month and another meeting would be held in New Delhi soon to resolve the dispute of ‘Muhurichar’ amicably.” Around 300 families have been living in the Chandannagar enclave for more than 125 years while 57 Indian farmers have been cultivating in the ‘Muhurichar’ areas decades before creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
The recent sixth Bangladesh-India Joint Boundary Working Group meeting in Dhaka decided that the two countries would once again conduct joint survey in the 63 acres Muhurichar area to resolve the deadlock. In the meeting, Indian side was led by Ministry of External Affairs’s joint secretary Sripriya Ranganathan and Bangladesh team was headed by home affairs ministry’s additional secretary (Political) Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Muneem.
Ranganathan, in a letter assured the Tripura chief secretary that “MEA would not take any steps that are at variance with the provision contained in the LBA 1974 and 2011 Protocol.” He said: “Of the 63 acres Muhurichar area, we have no objection to give 36 acres of land to Bangladesh after conducting a perfect demarcation of the areas.” According to the PWD minister, there are three separate cremation grounds of three religious communities existing in the Muhurichar area for several decades.
“The real tussle between India and the then East Pakistan over the Muhurichar area was started from early 1965. For many years, Army soldiers of the then East Pakistan and subsequently Bangladeshi border guards occasionally fired on the Indian sides killing few people and injuring many,” said the 67 years old Left leader.
The Tripura district majistrate Debashish Basu said that a proposal had been submitted to the union government to provide compensatuion to the affected Indian farmers who were for many years farming in the area.
After the 517-year rule by 184 kings, the erstwhile princely state of Tripura merged into the Indian union on October 15, 1949. Since partition of India in 1947, the Muhuri river along Muhurichar was considered a natural boundary for both nations. Over 84 percent of Tripura’s total border is international border – 856 km while the northeastern state shares a 53 km long border with Assam and a 109 km long border with Mizoram.