Bengal polls: 9,776 ex-enclave dwellers to get voting rights

  • Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Apr 16, 2016 11:14 IST
Children celebrate exchange of population at the enclaves.

Residents of the erstwhile enclaves in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal are gearing up for their first experience in electoral democracy, as the district administration released the final rolls of voters on Monday. The voters are expected to get their EPIC (electoral photo identity cards) this week.

A total of 9,776 voters from the former Bangladeshi enclaves in India and Indian enclaves in Bangladesh will cast their votes at 41 polling stations spread across four assembly constituencies of Dinhata, Sitalkuchi, Mekhligunj and Sitai on May 5.

“The final roll has been released. The EPIC, if necessary, will be delivered to the residences of the voters,” district magistrate P Ulganathan said.

“We are really excited with the news of publication of the final roll. We hope the administration deliver the EPIC at the earliest,” said Rousan Sarkar, a resident of Mashaldanga who has become a voter of Dinhata assembly constituency. Locals, however, said that there are almost 9,000 residents of enclaves who have already got their names enrolled in the voter list producing forged documents under false identity.

“It was a norm in enclave that people got birth certificates, school leaving certificates and voter ID cards showing Indian residents’ names as father/in-law,” an enclave dweller said, adding, “Most of who already had voter ID cards did not cancel previous cards and did not enrol in the fresh list.”

The Indo-Bangla Land Border Agreement was implemented last year, when 14,864 residents of 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India became Indian citizens, while 922 residents of Indian enclaves in Bangladesh migrated to India.

Among the constituencies, Dinhata has the most number of voters, nearly 5,000, followed by Sitalkuchi where 2,000 new voters may play a crucial role in deciding the fate of the candidates. Incidentally, both of Dinhata and Sitalkuchi are expected to witness close contest between TMC and the Left-Congress alliance.

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