The word Bangladesh or Bangladeshi have always been a very sensitive topic. The media and public in Assam go into hyper mode at the mere mention of these 2 words. So, it’s understandable that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 30th November, 2014 that Government of India is planning to go ahead with the land swap deal with Bangladesh, a huge hue and cry ensured in Assam.
Almost everyone accuse the Prime Minister and BJP of taking a U-turn on this issue.Now this accusation is not without reason. BJP, before general election 2014 made this land swap deal a big issue and attacked then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi on this issue.
So what happened now? Why BJP is changing it’s stand? To be honest I am not a BJP office bearer and hence I have no idea why this flip flop happened. I believe, before election the opposed it just because it was brought by UPA but now that they are in power they have realized that it was a wrong stand and this deal indeed will be beneficial to India. Hence this U turn and the eagerness to implement it.
But what exactly is the deal? How will this deal affect Assam and it’s people? More importantly, in view of the protests, do we have a better solution to this problem?
Let me dig into these issues one by one. First let us understand what exactly is this land swap deal with Bangladesh. As we all know, Bangladesh (East Pakistan then) was curved out of united India during partition in 1947. The enmity between the Hindus and the Muslims of that time was so ferocious that no one was willing to concede even an inch of their territory to the other party. The wars of 1965 and 1971 also altered the boundary and contributed to this problem,
It resulted in a peculiar situations. All over the world borders are meant to demarcate a land between 2 countries. It usually results in 1 country on one side of the border and the other country on the other side of the border, but not in case of India Bangladesh border. In bordering areas there are some Indian villages which are situated inside Bangladesh. These villages are called Indian enclaves. Although these are Indian territory, they are not physically contacted with India. They are almost like a island, only difference being instead of being surrounded by the sea they are surrounded by the land of a foreign country. The following illustration will help you in understanding this issue.
Now there are multiple problems with this arrangement.
- People living in these enclaves have to wait for the BSF to open the gates in the morning to go to India, there own country. Even if a medical emergency they can’t cross over to India (nor Bangladesh, as it’s foreign country).
- Government of India/Assam can’t implement most of it’s welfare schemes in these areas because of the difficulty in access.
- No access to Indian roads/railways or telecom network for these people.
Here is a picture of India Bangladesh border in the Cooch Behar sector. Those territory in green inside India, belongs to Bangladesh whereas those orange territory in Bangladesh is our land.
There are many more practical problems these people faces in a day to day basis.
The picture is not different for people of Bangladeshi enclaves on the Indian side of the border.
This land swap deal wants to exchange territory on both sides of the border. All territory on the Indian side will be Indian territory while everything on the Bangladesh’s side of the border would be Bangladesh’s territory.
I believe this could be a great solutions that will be in the interest of both the countries.
We will definitely have impact on Assam. Some of them are
- It will lead to a more secure border, as BSF can now fence off the entire border without worrying about people living on the other side. BSF won’t have to maintain multiple gates to accommodate these people. So this mean a secured border which will minimize the entry of illegal migrants into Assam.
- Since border is sealed, we can also stop the smuggling of cows, food grains etc into Bangaldesh and smuggling of people and arms in India.
- With a clearly demarcated border people in these enclaves will finally have a dignified life.
So, now my question to those opposing this deal.
- If this deal is not in the interest of Assam, then do you have a better solution to this problem?
- If you have what it is?
I know this is an emotional issue, but we also have to think practically. So, Let’s have a constructive discussion and let’s decide what’s good for our state.
Jai Aai Asom.