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Voters along Bangladesh border in West Bengal raise demarcation issue ahead of polls.

Cooch Behar (West Bengal), Apr.1 ( ANI ): Residents of Cooch Behar district in West Bengal, living along Indo-Bangladesh border, raised demarcation issue on Monday, ahead of parliamentary polls.

A resident, Sukanta Saha, said the demarcation of north-eastern boundaries with Bangladesh is very important in view of country's security and this is a major issue to be addressed in the elections.

"The Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh is not only an agreement. After 66 years, the demarcation of north-eastern boundaries with Bangladesh is very important in view of country's security, land area security and internal security. We need this commitment from anyone who comes in power whether it is BJP, Congress or third front," said Saha.

According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the district has 16, 08,902 voters which consist of 8, 45,909 male and rest 7, 62,988 are female.

Another resident, Swapan Mondal, said the people living along the border feel like second class citizen of the country.

"I am a resident of border. My house is along the India-Bangladesh border. From the childhood days I am seeing the people here live as a second class citizen of this country. Just after the fencing of border the natives here became second class citizen," said Mondal.

As of 2011 Cooch Behar is the third least populous district of West-Bengal after South Dinajpur and Darjeeling.

Border and enclave issues are the most important issues of concern in the state in the 16th Lok Sabha election that are few days away.

Cooch Behar district has 549.45km Indo-Bangladesh border. There is heavy deployment of India's paramilitary, Border Security Force (BSF), although border crimes like smuggling, infiltration, property offences problem and cattle smuggling are rampant.

On the other hand, the chit-mahals or Indo-Bangladesh enclaves are outlying and detached tracks of land situated inside Rangpur district of Bangladesh.

Similarly, there are Bangladeshi enclaves located in Cooch Behar district.

According to a 2011 census conducted jointly by India and Bangladesh, there are 111 enclaves of which 102 enclaves in Bangladesh have 17158.13 acres of land with an approximate population of 1,50,000 where as there are 51 Bangladeshi enclaves located in Cooch Behar and have 7110.02 acres of land with an approximate population of 14,000.

However, there is no administration control on the enclaves.

As a result, enclave's villagers are facing huge difficulties after the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) 1974 also known as Indira-Mujibur treaty came into existence.

India and Bangladesh share a nearly 4000-kilometres long porous border, which has been a major source of confrontation between the border forces of the two nations since the past many years. The route is also used for smuggling, illegal migration and infiltration.

Despite growing bilateral engagements, New Delhi still has some way to go to win trust from Bangladesh. In the past decade, security forces have killed about 1,000 Bangladeshi migrants trying to cross a 2,880-km (1,790-mile) border fence. ( ANI )

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Publication:Asian News International
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Apr 1, 2014
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