Dwellers of erstwhile Bangladeshi enclaves in India, who became Indian citizens barely five months ago, have hit the streets for the first time to protest against the alleged apathy of the Cooch Behar district administration in improving their standard of living.
Hundreds of former enclave dwellers marched to the office of the district magistrate on Wednesday to submit a deputation listing their demands, and threatened to launch a fresh stir if their voice was not heard.
The protesters were formally declared Indian citizens on the midnight of July 31.
The main demand of the former enclave dwellers was that the administration start the land ownership survey process immediately, and register them accordingly. Unless this is done, they will not own land in the country despite being granted citizenship.
“The district administration had issued an embargo on selling/buying of land in the erstwhile enclaves till November 30. We hoped the government would complete the process of creating land records before that. But considering that the administration is yet to launch the process of land measurement, we are anticipating big trouble in preparing land records. There was no land record since Independence and the land has already started changing hands,” Diptiman Sengupta, leader of the movement, told HT.
The agitators demanded that the district administration issue the land survey notification by December 31, failing which they would hit the streets again.
“We had to give an ultimatum to the district magistrate because preparing the land records is going to be a complex issue, and the administration is only letting it get more complex,” Sengupta added.
The rally was conducted under the banner of the Citizen’s Rights Coordination Committee. “Our demand is simple: we need land documents first,” said local youth Saddam Hossain.
So far, the Public Works Department and the electricity department have conducted surveys in the erstwhile enclaves to start building infrastructure. However, the work is yet to start.