Indo-Bangladesh Enclaves – Beyond the Boundaries !

In 1947, when India got partitioned, the princely states of Cooch Behar went to India and Rangpur to Bangladesh (the then East Pakistan). With this, the people of these two princely states also became citizens of India and Bangladesh respectively. The border was marked by Sir Cyril Radcliffe in a haste and nonchalant manner, without  understanding the ground realities !! The line drawn in the map by Sir Radcliffe has many complexities, which are yet to be addressed by both the countries. There are villages, where the border is drawn in such a way, that sometimes the verandah of one house lies in Bangladesh, whereas the kitchen lies in India. Both the countries have owned the people living there but without providing them rights to live with dignity and as human beings.

Out of many villages in Cooch Behar and Rangpur, 162 were caught on the wrong side of the border; small Indian islands are surrounded by Bangladeshi villages and vice-versa; these 162 villages are the Indo-Bangla enclaves or chitmahals (paper palaces). Historically, these enclaves are the result of gambles between the Kings of the then Cooch Behar and Rangpur, which were never sought for clarification while drawing the border on the map. At present, about 100,000 people live in these 162 enclaves, without any basic living conditions. The worst part is their national identity ! No one has a clear national identity; neither Indian nor Bangladeshi – mostly known as the “nowhere people“. They do not have any identity, no passport, no voter-card, no water, no electricity, no hospital, no school, no sustained mode of income, no roads and no civil society. They are like foreigners staying in another country, without any link with their own country. Even, they are not entitled to get a birth and a death certificate, let alone access to medicines, healthcare and other facilities.

Out of these 162 enclaves, 51 Bangladeshi enclaves are inside the Indian territory and the rest 111 are Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh. Both the countries do not want to give up their rights on these enclaves so far as the land mass is concerned. The irony with the fate of these people is that their respective countries also do not treat them well; mostly, they are labelled as spies and harassed, or are branded with all types of anti-national tags and always looked down with suspicion. Due to the Indo-Bangla fences (roughly 2,400-mile) recently built by India, their lives became tougher. They can go to their own country only in the day time, and have to stay back in the foreign country in the night ! This, not without harassment at the border posts and or paying a bribe. Out of this 2,400-mile border, due to the enclaves, there are 21 miles (34.5 km) that cannot be fenced, cannot be flood-lit or gated and in many cases is simply not policed at all.

This has become a major diplomatic stand-off for the last 66 years, without any major change on the ground. Efforts are sporadic from both the sides, without any clarity of thoughts and political will, mainly due to vote-bank politics. India backs the people who want to stay in India, despite the fact that they are legally Bangladeshi. The same stand is also maintained by Bangladesh. But it is yet to be ratified by both the countries. After  1947, though there was a political desire to de-enclave this and both India and Pakistan (then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) agreed in 1958 for a political solution, it could not be ratified due to various reasons. Nothing happened again till 1971 when Bangladesh was formed, as both India and Pakistan were mostly at war. In 1974, both India and Bangladesh agreed either to exchange the enclaves or at least to provide easy access to the enclaves; Bangladesh quickly ratified but India could materialize only a little.

In reality, neither India nor Bangladesh have allowed the people of the enclaves to choose a side (nation) solely on their own conviction, though there are accords signed recently (September,2011) between both the countries. The reason – India gets less land and more people as compared to Bangladesh which gets more land with less people. With major political parties opposing in India, the impasse is understandable. Moreover, it is yet to be ratified by the Indian Parliament also, which is mostly non-functional these days due to huge corruption issues. Referendum is also completely ruled out due to other demands and political or social or legal implications.

Then, what should be done to bring justice to these long-neglected people ? Don’t you agree that it is a humanitarian issue, irrespective of Indians staying inside Bangladesh or Bangladeshis staying inside India ? One ought to visit the enclaves to realize how awfully unconcerned or inhumane we are, by not taking a firm decision and not giving them their basic rights. It is definitely not a matter of patriotism, or a political win or loss, or a country’s win or loss. Rather it is an issue of delivering basic human rights to people living in abysmal conditions and to set them free from all sorts of burden, bondage, slavery, suspicion, hate, and rights violation. Moreover, with this cul-de-sac, both the countries are also violating the very essence of their respective Constitution- failing to guarantee the fundamental rights of their people.

Aamjunta – what is your opinion ? How long can we impose this political embargo on our own people ? By doing this, we are also encouraging criminal activities through Maoism, Terrorism and Fundamentalism in these enclaves that has already started spreading its vicious tentacles to other parts of the Indian subcontinent. Therefore, with utmost sincerity, I urge the politicians, bureaucrats, social-activists and citizens of both the countries to look into this matter with a big heart and resolve the issue of the enclaves for the sake of humanity at least. Otherwise, our future will never forgive us. Let us live and let live beyond the boundaries.

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border ?” – Pablo Casals

-Jai Hind

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Being Social or active in Social Media…..

Are you there in FB?

Ya I am there, but not active 😦 ..

Oh! you are missing the big picture there, come over, will talk….

and she cut the phone…

Disgusting…. was the obvious reaction from this side…

This was the conversation between two ladies in their 40s which I over-heard last week while I was in a shopping complex in Bangalore.

This incident reminded me of a similar story that happened with me some years back. At that time it was Orkut, and now it is FB or Facebook. The bottom line of story is the same, only the characters and the modalities are different. I am sure many of my readers and fellow aamjuntas must have faced something similar or the other.

Now a days most of us are active in social media sites like Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Youtube and so many. Adding new albums, searching old and new friends, updating status, sending messages, sharing links, and chatting over Facebook is a common practice.

With affordable Internet over mobile phones and broadband connections, nearly 80-90% users visit the social media sites in general. It is observed that the average time we spend on the Internet in general, and social media in particular is much more than the time we spend with our family and some time even more than we work !!

Moreover, most of the time we are busy in investigating or searching about others’ activity and reactions to some comment, photo update, status update, etc.,  than really bothering about our own work. Interestingly, we hardly find time or zeal to meet a friend, to do our daily exercise and to even sleep…. Sometimes it makes us so busy that mothers forget feeding their babies, students lack in time to study, office-goers forget to respond to a job schedule and some even ended up with depression and hyper-tension.

Quite surprisingly, there is also a rise in thefts, murders, rapes, harassments, etc., in cities where actual social life is almost negligible due to various factors. We put all our informations including email-ids, photos, telephone numbers, address, and present whereabouts for our friends… and that also becomes available for the anti-social elements ! This definitely compromises our security and well-being resulting in murders, thefts, rapes, blackmailing, harassments and so on…. horrific regular news headings in national dailies and in TV.

By saying all these things, I am not asking the aamjunta to stop browsing or stop visiting social media sites. It is necessary to be social and one cannot discount the importance of social media in this age. However, we need to understand the difference between being Social and active in Social Media.

Definitely the social media has some positive and negative aspects, and as the so called sab-janta users, we should evaluate critically about this, such that we can make some thing positive out of it.

Coming to a general view of social media – it has the characteristics to potentially give “voice to all”, immediate outreach, literally “24X7 – Engagement” and offers a unique opportunity of connection among the users. It has the potential to reach new and old friends across the world and to make the world smaller and smaller; a feel-good factor for the social animal – to talk/chat, to share, to learn and to showcase. 🙂 …

Coming out from the individualistic mode, social media has the potential to provide an opportunity for the Government agencies to engage with all their stakeholders including the citizens in real time and to make policies citizen-centric. Like Government agencies, Private enterprise houses /business organizations also engage social media in marketing their products/services (e.g. using the number of “Likes” to know their target audience), and NGOs/Charitable organizations use social media to educate people about their schemes such that they can reach a wider audience. Many positive aspects though…

However, there is a growing concern by the Government agencies, business organization, ethnic groups and parents on the excess use of social media. Remember that it has “viral” ability for potentially exponential spread of information by word of mouth and interlinking of the various social media platforms. It has both positive and negative impact though – the rising awareness of anti-corruption movement in India and the recent revolutions in Gulf against the dictators /rulers are some of the positive examples. Along with these, one should not forget the horrors of August-2012 in India – Twitter and Facebook messages along with bulk SMS and MMS triggering a social division and hate between North-East vs. West and South of India – in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad…

Unless the use of social media is controlled i.e. either self-controlled or monitored by an Authority, I am sure, the evil force of social media will overpower the rest. There must be a sense of responsibility and maturity that we need to exhibit while publishing any information in any such social networking sites. Wake-up calls have been notified by Government agencies (recently Govt. of India has banned Maoisit literature on Facebook), business organizations and Judiciary; in India, in Gulf and in many other parts of the world.

These days, police is keeping an eye on anti-social elements and their day-to-day activities, companies regularly check the credentials of their employees and new joiners, parents check their ward’s activities, many who are nuptial -hopefuls check most of the details of the users concerned, and many more… As reported today, Facebook also plans to call up and verify in case it suspects a user profile.

Though this kind of monitoring approach will restrict our privacy and free speech to some extent, it is of course required for a greater cause, which is subject to debate and judicial review. When there is an absolute need to check the spread of any noxious “viral” information and to maintain or restore peace and normalcy, then I certainly see a merit behind this. It is evident in most of the cases.

Aamjunta… just think over it.

Are you just social or active in this kind of social media ?

You are the best judge to think, to act, to react and to answer this crucial concern…

 

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