Kurigram, Dec 21 (UNB) -The residents of ex-enclaves, including those of Dasiachhara in Phulbari upazila, are eagerly waiting to cast their votes in the December-30 polls, for the first time in any national election.
A festive mood has been prevailing in the former Indian enclaves in Bangladesh as the residents are getting ready to rewrite the history.
The new voters, including young and the aged ones, are counting days expecting that they will be able to vote in a free and fair manner as Bangladesh citizens.
Dasiachhara of Phulbari in Kurigram district is the biggest enclave with three unions—Phulbari Sadar, Bhangamore and Kashipura.
Some 7,672 people have been living in the area, including 3,172 voters. They will cast their votes from Kurigram-2 constituency (Sadar-Razarhat-Phulbari).
A total of 2,24,544 voters —1,13,126 female and 1,11,417 male — will cast their votes in Sadar upazila while 1,42,323—72,388 female and 69,935 male--in Razarhat upazila and some 1,26,368--64,099 female and 62,269 male— in Phulbari upazila from Kurigram-2 constituency.
Under a pilot project of the Election Commission, the residents of Dasiachhara received the smart NID cards within one year of the enclave exchange.
Ponir Uddin Ahmed (JaPa) is contesting the polls as a candidate of AL-led Grand Alliance while Maj Gen (retd) AMSA Amin from Jatiya Oikyafront in the constituency.
Among the 111 now-defunct enclaves, 59 are in Lalmonirhat, 36 in Panchagarh, four in Nilphamari and 12 in Kurigram districts.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of the district Golam Mostafa said members of law enforcement agencies have been working so that all the voters, including those of ex-enclaves, can cast their votes smoothly.
Demands and Expectations
Alongside their excitement, the residents of Dasiachhara expect that their elected representatives will live up to their election pledges, including infrastructure development and eradication of drug abuse from society.
Talking to UNB, Altaf Hossain, a resident of Dasiachhara, said, “We’re happy that we’ll get a chance to vote for the first time. But, we’re also unhappy that Awami League didn’t field any candidate to contest the election from our constituency. We’ve got freed from the curse of enclave at the initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina but there’s no candidate here of her party.”
How did it happen?
Following the ratification of the much-talked-about Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) by Indian Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha unanimously in May 2015, the deal was implemented at the midnight of July 31, 2015, ending the decade-old sufferings of the people living in enclaves on both sides of Bangladesh and India.
Under the agreement, India gave 111 enclaves measuring 17,160 acres to Bangladesh and received 51 enclaves covering 7,110 acres.
The enclaves' people had the option to choose the citizenship of either Bangladesh or India.
The 111 ex-Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh include 12 in Kurigram, 59 in Lalmonirhat, four in Nilphamari and 36 in Panchagarh, while all the 51 ex-Bangladeshi enclaves are located in Cooch Behar of India.
On April 11, 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs in Bangladesh published a gazette notification awarding 37,535 enclave dwellers Bangladeshi citizenship in line with the Citizenship Act 1951.