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India to amend constitution for enclaves exchange with Bangladesh

Publication Date : 18-05-2012

 

The Indian authorities are drafting an amendment to the country's constitution to enable the long-awaited exchange of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in the Indian territory, Indian officials said.

"Government is committed to the earliest implementation of the Protocol and Land Boundary Agreement (between the two countries) that would result in exchange of enclaves," Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in a letter to Communist Party of India leader Prabodh Panda.

The protocol and the agreement, signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh in September last year, are subject to ratification by Indian Parliament in order to implement the 1974 Indira-Mujib pact on land boundary.

"The ratification, therefore, necessitates an amendment of the Constitution. Necessary preparations to place a draft amendment bill before Parliament are underway," Krishna said, adding these would "enter into force on the date of exchange of Instruments of Ratification" and facilitate the exchange of the enclaves.

India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said earlier this month in Dhaka that ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance lacks two-thirds majority in the parliament that is required to amend the constitution.

Krishna's letter came after Panda had raised the issue in Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian parliament, earlier this month asking the government to take urgent steps to exchange the enclaves and provide much-needed relief to thousands of people living in these areas.

Panda had said 37,100 Indians were living in these enclaves and 14,200 Bangladeshis living here, as per the latest census carried out jointly by both countries.

"These large number of people of both countries are deprived of political rights and do not enjoy social facilities that are necessary for development of individuals in a free society," he said.

The Indian enclaves in Bangladesh were spread over 17,149 acres of land while Bangladeshi enclaves in India were located on 7,110 acres, Panda said, observing that the problem had remained unresolved even after the Indira-Mujib Agreement or during the transfer of Teen Bigha.

 

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