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For the last 68 years since India’s independence, the erstwhile enclave dwellers were a people who existed in a state of limbo as residents of enclaves lying within India and Bangladesh. They had neither social identity nor political status and lived and died outside the purview of any law or constitution, unnoticed and uncared for. Even the most basic civic amenities such as electricity, running water, medical aid, school education and proper road infrastructure were beyond their reach. These residents had de jure rights—being Bangladeshi or Indian citizens on paper. The chimes midnight of July 31 this year ushered in a new phase in the existence of the enclave-dwellers. On August 1, as the Land Boundary Agreement (1974) and the subsequent Protocol (2011) between India and Bangladesh came into force, for the first time in their lives became citizens of the countries. Though the struggle for enclave-dwellers has ended, a new problem is taking shape. Amid the celebrations, there were some whose joy was tinged with apprehension because their names had not come up on the final list of the recently concluded joint headcount, even though many of them possessed the token given to them after the 2011 joint headcount in the enclaves, as reported. Their main fear is that their family will be forced out of their land as the title of their land has been changed now, owned by either India or Bangladesh States. There are apprehensions that those who were not counted in the joint headcount of 2015 will not receive any compensation or citizenship proof as per the Land Boundary Agreement, between India and Bangladesh. Even though the agreement provides a glimmer of hope for these residents difficult times are predicted for them. Issues like the compensation and its quantum for rehabilitation and the bestowing of citizenship are still vague with no clarity provided. MASUM is working with the communities for their citizenry rights without any discrimination.
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