Residents celebrated the exchange of enclaves between Bangladesh and India through waving Bangladesh national flag, burning firecrackers and distributing sweetmeats immediately after the clock struck the zero hours on Saturday.
As part of the process to implement the 1974 historic Land Boundary Agreement, Bangladesh and India formally swapped their enclaves in the wee hours of Saturday (August 1), bringing an end to the 68-year statelessness of thousands of people.
With the midnight swap, the 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India have become Indian territories while 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh the Bangladesh territories.
Phulbari and Bhurungamari upazila nirbahi officers Nasir Uddin Mahmud and Arshad Ahsan on behalf of the state hoisted the national flag at Dasiarchhara enclave in Phulbari upazila and at Boro Gauchulka enclave of Bhurungamari upazila respectively around 6am.
Thousands of people joined the flag hoisting ceremony while the moment was also marked by lighting 68 candles.
Bangladeshi national flag was also hoisted in other enclaves in Kurigram, Panchagarh, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat before the sunrise while the inhabitants celebrated the end to their captive life with many programmes all throughout the day.
District’s deputy commissioner Habibur Rahman and Hatibandha upazila nirbahi officer Mahbubur Rahman hoisted the national flag at Bhitarkuti and Uttar Gotamari enclaves respectively on behalf of the government around 6am.
People of 36 enclaves in Patgram upazila in Lalmonirhat brought out separate processions that turned into human seas at the upazila headquarters on Saturday morning. Later around 10am, a 68-foot national flag was unfolded and exhibited by the people.
Mohammad Samsul Alam, acting deputy commissioner of Panchagarh; Giasuddin Ahmed, superintendent of police of the district, Upazila Nirbahi Officer Laila Muntajery Deena; Mafizar Rahman, Panchagarh-Nilphamari unit president of Bangladesh-India Enclave Swap Committee were, among others, present at the ceremony.
Besides, the enclave dwellers also sang the national anthem ‘Amar sonar Bangla ami tomay bhalobashi’ during the celebration.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in their separate messages congratulated the people of enclaves on this historic occasion.
Gazette notifications pertaining to the transfer of territorial jurisdiction of adversely possessed lands, which has been in effect from the midnight, will be issued by both the governments very soon.
The residents, except those who opted for moving to India from Indian enclaves which are becoming Bangladesh territories, will be given Bangladesh citizenship.
Similarly, the residents of Bangladesh enclaves becoming Indian territories will be given Indian citizenship.
The movement of people would take place between November 1-30, 2015. Both the governments would ensure safe, orderly and secure passage for the movement to the mainland.
The historic Land Boundary Agreement between Bangladesh and India was signed by Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujibur Rahman and Srimati Indira Gandhi in 1974.
Both the countries agreed that the Bangladeshi enclaves in India and Indian enclaves in Bangladesh will be exchanged in pursuant to the 1974 Agreement and 2011 Protocol shall stand transferred to the other with effect from 12:01am of August 1, 2015.
Under the Land Boundary Agreement, India exchanged 111 enclaves measuring 17,160 acres to Bangladesh and received 51 enclaves covering 7,110 acres. More than 51,000 people reside in these enclaves.
There are 111 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh - 12 in Kurigram, 59 in Lalmonirhat, four in Nilphamari and 36 in Panchagarh, whereas all 51 Bangladeshi enclaves are located in Cooch Behar of India.
According to the Indo-Bangla joint survey report disclosed on July 21, 779 residents of 111 Indian enclaves on Bangladesh side opted for going to India while no one of the residents of Bangladeshi enclaves on Indian side intended to come to Bangladesh.
As per the joint report, there are 14,500 residents in the 51 Bangladeshi enclaves on the Indian side, and 44,500 people in 111 Indian enclaves landlocked in Bangladesh.
On June 6, Bangladesh and India signed and exchanged the historic instruments of ratification on Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) formalising the long-pending issue between the two countries.