Inhabitants of Indian Enclaves Often Oppressed, Neglected and Exploited

Case Study A:

.” …. Look, in the enclaves, forcible occupation is a common incident and it occurs off and on. Therefore, it is difficult to keep land property or the crops of the field under control.

Especially in my case, I can say, I was a permanent inhabitant of the chhitmahal, Kote-Bhajni. I had inherited 128 Bighas of land from my father. However, I could not enjoy those land property due to forceful occupation, robbery and plundering.

Once in a winter morning of 1979, one Mr. Ataur Hussain, a well to do landlord of nearby Bangladeshi village appeared before our door along with 14 to 15 Gunda (that is, ruffian or hooligans) with traditional sharpen weapons and asked me to vacate the land immediately. Seeing this, some village people also came there to enjoy the ‘game’.

Enclave 01
A view of Tin Bigha corridor at Coohbehar district of Indian State, West Bengal, where Bangladeshi peoples are using the Indian International Border Road as passage to up and down their Bangladeshi enclaves territory Dahagram and Angrapota villages. (Photo/Shib Shankar Chatterjee)

Upon enquiry, he told me that I had sold the land and property to him in 4/5 installments. To prove in fact, he showed a registered notebook or document, which was registered in the Haldibari Sub-Register Office under Jalpaigguri district in North-Bengal areas of the Indian State, West Bengal.

The incident unnerved me and I totally forgot to utter a word. The inhabitants in and around our house also got terrified with the incident and they too dared not to tell anything. I did never go to Haldibari except once in my childhood and that too to pay a visit to the local ethnic fair of Hajur.

I went there (my ancestral house) in a body along with several people of our village. However, nobody put any resistance to that illegal attack and occupation and thus we were driven out from of our landed property. I lost my paddy-land, house and property.

After that, I went to Mekhliganj (under Jalpaigguri district in North-Bengal areas of the Indian State, West Bengal) along with the members of my family and took shelter in one our relative’s house. I could not bring anything with us except a few ornaments.

My family consisted of six members, my wife, three sons, one daughter and I myself. Our days began to pass in great hardship.

In the meantime, I sold my wife’s ornaments, which she got during our marriage time and filed a suit against Mr. A. Hussain and his forcible occupation of our land and property in the Mekhliganj Sub-divisional court. It was but a cheating case. The suit continued for last three years and at last, I won victory. But, yet I could not occupy my land and property.

My wife had died. My younger son is a daily-labour, elder son is a Rikshawala (that is, Rikshaw-puller) and I can’t say, what does my second son do.

Anyway, my present address is the camp erected by Public Work Department (PWD) Road near Deshbandhu Colony and my business is to make Kagojer-Thonga (that is, paper-bag) …..,” reminiscences septuagenarian Umesh Rai Barman of Kote-Bhajni Chhitmahal under Haldibari Police Station (PS) of Jalpaiguri district in North-Bengal areas of the Indian State, West Bengal.

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Case Study B:

.” …. It was the day for the celebration of my marriage. The Bangladeshi PS, Debigonj, under Panchagarh district is just beside my house. The Officer-in-Charge (OC) of that PS along with 15/16 Police personnel suddenly attacked us with guns in hand and masks on their faces with an intention to rob our property.

Seeing this, a few guests of our village fled away. However, the rest of the guests and family members were beaten by their sticks and the hilts of guns, bound us with the rope and at last kept confined in a room and then started plundering our belongings (including some valuable articles, which were bought for marriage purpose). I stood motionless and stunned.

Truly speaking, we had to live upon threat. We could not eat, drink and sleep peacefully even for a day. The Muslims often harassed us and our women almost everyday dishonoured. They sexually and physically abused them, which compelled us to loss our patience. Therefore, at last we had come here leaving all we had.

Here, we maintain our livelihood in great hardship, breaking stone, working as daily labour or other such unworthy jobs. Although, all these works may not offer happiness but peace at home. As a result, we can at least sleep unprovoked and save the chastity of our daughters, wives and mothers.

But, the question of justice was always beyond expectation. Yet, if we would lodge any complain against any robbery or theft, nothing could happen. On the contrary, oppression or harassment of those people would renew …..,” regretted 55-years-old Keshab Deb Singha of (01 Number) Dahala Khagrabari Chhitmahal under Haldibari Police Station (PS) of Jalpaiguri district in North-Bengal areas of the Indian State, West Bengal.

Case Study C:

“I think, especially the women of the Indian Chhitmahals always live in great peril. The women from minimum 10-years to maximum 50-years have no freedom to go or move out of the door without the permission of the elders and yet many a time, they cannot preserve their honour.

Lack of security and oppression of the unwanted persons always haunted them. Even everyday, after sunset every women, whether a girl of teenage, young or aged are required to hit out a plan to protect herself either behind the bush or dig a hole from the harassment of the Bangladeshi miscreants. Nobody cannot sleep at night peacefully.

These anti-social miscreants always pass some abusive remarks to our women class. Not only that but they also threatened to kill us.

Apart from this, even, at the daytime, when the male heads are out of the doors, these wicked Bangladeshi people stealthily enter our houses and harass our women. All these things, I myself have seen in my own eyes. The senseless men off and on attack our women, whether old and young; rape and then kill them in order to cover up the incident.

The men, who commit these sins, are very intimate to us. At day, they call our women – sisters, mothers, paternal aunts, maternal aunts, Boudi (wife of elder brothers) by name. However, at night, they do these heinous deeds before the eyes of our family members and the Police of Bangladesh, who are posted to guard them.

When we went to the nearby Bangladesh Police Station (PS) to lodge First Information Report (FIR), the Officer in Charge (OC) flatly denied to accept the charge. Even, the people of our place are given in early marriage of women in the age of 12 to 13, for fear harassment by the Muslim people. So, ladies from 10 years to 50 years dare not to move out of the doors.

Always a fearful situation prevails in our areas. Nobody can do anything due to their threats and it is not possible to keep the chastity of our women and girls. Tell me, what can we do …..,” questioned Sabitree Barman (45) of (01 Number) Dahala Khagrabari Chhitmahal, who was forced to leave her Chhitmahal.

Case Study D:

.” …. Fear always haunted our village people and me. So, our village people and I get afraid of going to Saptahik-haat (that is, weekly-market), especially the market of town areas, which hold at a distance.

People living there threaten us in various ways and ask not to go there. But, even, if we go to market, they compel to pay various ‘taxes’ or subscriptions forcibly. Not only that, we never get actual price for the crops we sell and are compelled to sell them at a lower rate of price. Sometimes, they snatch our crops if we do not give them at their price, which they fix.

Apart from this, it is very impossible to keep crops standing in the field. Rubbing or stealing of crops often takes place at any time, whether at noon or at night. The looters come with firearms or ethnic sharpen weapons (like Dao, Hansuli, Kaachi, Hann, Bhojali et cetera).

For example, we can say, once one of our men went to prevent them with five to six young men but in vain. The looters killed them in the paddy field. We have no gun and this has made us helpless …..,” described with full of anxiety Khoka Orano (30) of Haldibari PS, who moved in 1972.

Case Study E:

.” …. the fact is that the Indian enclaves are but small ‘land-island’ and these enclaves are surrounded by Bangladesh country and the officials of Indian Government, Non-Government Organization (NGO)s, political, non-political leaders cannot come here easily.

This is why there is very little scope for the growth and development in the socio-economic spheres. As a result, generation after generation has plunged into the darkness of prosperity of any kind. In a word, we can say, these areas are kept quite isolated from the mainland.

So, how can the people of these (Indian enclaves) areas prosper in the socio-economic spheres? Astonishing fact is that the road and transport System has paralyzed, tottering condition of Drinking Water System, absent of Electric System and Post an Telecommunication System and bad Sanitary System that smashed the lifeline of the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves.

For these reasons, many compel to return to India to resettle permanently and the flow has been continuing (since 1963 to until today) time after time. Presently, there is no other alternative but do this.

But, yet we are not happy. We don’t receive any help from the Government of West Bengal and so many of us has left this place and has taken shelter to the tea-gardens of neighbouing North-Eastern Indian State, Assam and the Orissa, Jharkhand et cetera respectively …..,” Bamna Mardi of Kote-Bhajni Chhitmahal under Haldibari PS, who was driven out of his chhit for similar circumstances in 1980s.

“Chhitmahal” is commonly used to define ‘Enclave’. Here, Chhit means ‘a fragment’ and Mahal means ‘land’. Thus, it is called – Chhitmahal (that is, ‘a fragment land’ or ‘a piece of land’). Geographically it is explained as ‘land-island’, but grammatically it is ‘separated from the mainland’.

Enclave is an execrable plot of land that has created a great excitement in the present political turmoil of the Asia continent in the world. The inhabitants of the Indian enclaves are in fact debarred from all sorts of constitutional and other citizens of the mainland enjoy administrative facilities as. So, they are often found oppressed, neglected and exploited. Both the constitutional and the administrative issues are fruitless to these people.

They have not even their ‘Ration Cards’. Astonishing fact is that since 1951, there is no ‘Census’ work has been done, whether general or special and as a result, the true figure of the population is not known. Although, presently, it is thought that it may be approximately one lakh. But, in the year, 1951, it population figure was about 1,200 or so.

Although, 80% (percent) belongs to ‘Muslim’ community and others 20% (percent) is consisting with Koch-Rajbongshi (as Scheduled Caste, that is, SC) and the Adibashi Santhal (specially Munda) clan (as Scheduled Tribe, that is, ST) community live in Indian enclaves.

There is no Post & Telegraph Communication system in these enclaves. 70% (percent) to 80% (percent) odd of houses have a ‘Radio’ or a battery-operated ‘Television’ set that catches programmes from Bangladesh, Nepal and obviously Indian channel (Doordarshan).

According to Articles 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Indian Constitution (IC), the citizens of these enclaves are the true inhabitants of the Indian Union and as such, they have the right to enjoy all the fundamental rights granted by IC as per Constitution Vide Article 14 to 32, Chapter-III of the IC.

But, in fact, the Government of India has no sovereign power over the territory infested in the Indian enclaves. They are known as Indians in the soil of Bangladesh. They do not get any help from the Government of Bangladesh for they have no citizenship of Bangladesh. They are far from the modern amenities or civilized life.

Even, the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves have neither any national identity nor any national security. There is neither Government offices nor Non-Government offices to deal with their problems, although, they are not stateless nomadic creatures.

The enclaves were small parts of Kamrup Kingdom, clears from the Census Report, 1951. According to that report, some of them were wasted from during Bhutanese, Pathan (that is, a race of Muslim community), who were inhabitant of the North-West Frontier Province) and Mughal (that is, also a race of Muslim community) invansion in the 17th and the 18th centuries, when various internal brawls cropped up in the royal family of ‘Coochbehar Estate’.

Later on, the Maharaja (that is, Emperor) of Coochbehar ruled these enclaves. After that, these enclaves came under the administration of ‘British’, when the East Indian Company captured the ‘Estate of Coochbehar’ as a feudatory state. They liked to continue the same arrangement.

As per local government officials, in 1937, N. C. Mustafi on behalf of the then ruler of Coochbehar and A. C. Hartley, on behalf of the British Government jointly made a map on these enclaves.

India began to exercise her control since the merger agreement, on 28th August, 1949, between the Government of India and the emperor of Coochbehar-estate. The Raja (that is, King) of Coochbehar yielded his estate to the Government of India later on. According to the records of the Government of India Gazette, 1977, after the partition, an agreement was made on 28th August, 1949, between the Governor General of India and His Highness Maharaja Jag Dipendra Narain of Cooch Behar State to provide administration under the authority of dominion of Indian Union. Later, Coochbehar State merged into India on 12th September, 1949, on 1st January, 1950 Coochbehar ceased to continue as a part of ‘C’ State and by virtue of Section 29 (I) of Government of India Act, 1935, Coochbehar State came into existence as a district of Indian State, West Bengal w.e.f. January, 1960.

Though, meanwhile, there occurred an agreement on 10th September, 1958, between the then Prime Minister (PM) of the then West-Pakistan (that is, presently ‘Pakistan’), Feroz Khan Noon and Indian the then PM, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (known as – Indo-Pak Agreement, 10th September, 1958), which clearly stated that there should be no claim of compensation for the additional regions entering into Pakistan but the same remained un-implemented.

But, as per local erudition, before 1949, the enclaves (at that time, it was locally called mouza, that is, cluster), which erstwhile the emperor of Coochbehar (now in India) and the Zamindar (that is, Landlord or Land-holder) of Rongpur of the then East-Pakistan, that is, East-Bengal (locally called – Purbo Bangla or known as – Purbo Bango), presently in ‘Bangladesh’, bartered each other as rewards, when they lost a game during a chess-game.

According to the versions of the observers, “The rulers of these states gifted a piece of land in the honour of the visiting ruler, whenever, they paid visits to each other. As per another version, the rulers were renowned gamblers and they used to give a piece of land upon losing to each other in gambling. The piece of land so given away is called – chhitmahal or enclave. The dictionary meaning of enclave is ‘a foreign territory surrounded by one’s own territory’. And these above-mentioned enclaves are all located in the part of former two of neighbouring independent nations – Coochbehar (now in India) and Rongpur (earlier in East Pakistan and now in Bangladesh) during English period. There are dissimilar descriptions of as regards to surfacing of these above enclaves.”

On the other hand, some of the local people and the octogenarians are of coherent historical opinion that these enclaves were created during the conflicts that broke out in the 16th century between the then Rajas of Coochbehar and the Mughals. The Mughals could not drive away the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves, even after their influence that later on became the part of Coochbehar Kingdom. Of them, a part merged with the then British district Rongpur, presently in Bangladesh. In that way, many years passed by in the same way, that is, overlapped.

During the invasion of Mughul General, Mirjumla in 1661, Coochbehar was an independent estate. Mirjumla was partially successful and some parts of that estate came under the sway of the Mughal. But the people, who lived there, paid their loyalty to the Nazim (that is, Moslem or Collector of Revenue), Nawab of Bengal (that is, Provincial Governor of Ruler).

At that time, there were some small autonomous pocket or isolated island areas were born in and around the independent estate, Coochbehar. For diplomatic cause, the British honoured the independence status of those tributary estates or those autonomous small pockets.

Although, the origin of the enclaves are shaded with darkness. According to some noted historians, during the Mughal attacked between the years 1687 to 1699, there were some mighty landlords, who were called Chakladar in and around the State of Coochbehar. These landowners did not surrender to the Mughal.

These suzerains, who were often called Bhuyan in the then Undivided Kamrup kingdom kept their authority on those areas (that is, Chakala)s, like Boda, Patgram and Purbabhagh of Coochbehar-estate. But, the Mughal did not disinherit them and so they continued to rule as usual.

In the year 1712, when Khan Jehan Khan, the Governor of Bengal rescued and broad these three estate under his administration, a pact was sign between the Nawab of Bengal, where and the Maharaja of Coochbehar-estate. This treaty permitted these three chakla to rule. These chakladars, who had not been inherited by Mughals, later on came to the sway of the Raja of the Coochbehar-estate and so, these areas couldn’t turn into Zamindari, but had not direct connection with administration of the Raja of Coochbehar-estate.

According to the Report of the Survey & Settlement Operations, 1931-1938 made by C. Hartley, Coochbehar had initially 158 enclaves of her own of which 44 enclaves were situated in the then Undivided Rongpur District of East India Company of the British Government, that is, pre-partition district of Jalpaiguri (presently, Jalpaiguri District of Indian State, West-Bengal) and one was the then Undivided Goalpara District of Undivided Assam State, also presently known as another Indian State, Assam.

Although, Jalpaiguri district was formed out of undivided British district, Rongpur, 1868, the enclaves of Cooochbehar also under the administration of the districts of ‘Undivided India’ – Dinajpur, Rongpur and Jalpaiguri before 15th August, 1947 (that is, in the pre-partition times).

After that, the Indian Independence Act (IIA) of 1947 was passed on July 18th, 1947 in the ‘Parliament of the Great Britain (that is, England)’. As a result, of this India was divided into the dominions – ‘India’ and ‘Pakistan’. That act came into force on August 15th, 1947.

In the mean time, a boundary commission formed under the chairmanship of Sir Cyril Radcliffe as per Section 3 of the IIA, 1947. This commission put forward a reward, which was determined the inter area of the boundaries of the estate of West-Bengal and East-Bengal respectively, made under Section 3(01) (b) of the IIA, before independence.

In addition to this, the commission under the chairmanship of S. C. Radcliff, included 5 more Thana (Police Stations) of Jalpaiguri district in East-Bengal. These thanas were a) Pnchagarh, b) Debigonj, c) Tentulia, d) Patgram and e) Boda. But, when the state of Coochbehar was merged with the Indian State, West-Bengal, it was form that the 17 Coochbehar enclaves under Haldibari PS fell under the administration of Jalpaiguri PS of Jalpaiguri district of Indian State, West-Bengal (see the Table-V).

Seeing this, West-Bengal Government decided to make plan to shift these 17 numbers of enclave under the Indian West-Bengal State Government Home (Police) Department, Notification Number – 2427 P. L. dated 27th June, 1952 to the Jalpaiguri district permanently.

[As a result, West-Bengal had lost these 5 Thanas because of the new addition noted above. Thus, the germs of this present problem and conflict of South Berubari.]

It is fact that after partition of India on 15th August, 1947, Coochbehar State merged with Indian Union and Rongpur State (earlier under in East Pakistan State) now Bangladesh. Hence, 111-numbers of Indian enclave inside Bangladesh fell inside erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh and 53 erstwhile East Pakistani, now Bangladeshi enclaves fell inside India. Indian enclaves are mostly under administration and jurisdiction of Mekhliganj Sub-division of Coochbehar district of Indian State, WB. Road and even, railway ran across each other’s enclaves. The inhabitants of these previously mentioned enclaves primarily had no troubles as they could travel or move, wherever they liked. For everything, the dwellers were mutually dependent with neighbouring areas. They were even, reliant with parent country only on administrative and judicial issues.

Indeed, during partition between India and Pakistan, in 1947, the problem created, when Sir Cyril Radcliff, the British Engineer, while dividing the then Undivided Bengal through drew an arbitrary line and put many enclaves in the rule of the Nawabs of Dhaka, which in fact owed loyalty to the then estate of Coochbehar in East-Pakistan. Those areas legally should belong to Coochbehar into India. Like wise, a few certain areas in Coochbehar-estate only that were allegiance to Dhaka remain included in India due to the socio-geographical location that at the early stage was in East-Pakistan.

These enclaves, where the Indians pass their lives like disguised Indians are places having a little link with the mainland. They are like the oasis in the great desert of India and the inhabitants, who dwell their still, call them Indians.

These enclaves are but the No Man’s Land lacking relation with the administration of India. Indian enclaves are very much fertile and famous for lush paddy, jute and tobacco fields and bamboo and mango orchards.

Over and above, the enclave’s inhabitants grow pineapples, jackfruits and different types of vegetables including a host of cash crops. Although, they do all agricultural works without any provision of irrigation water or shallow-tube-wells. The enclave’s farmers raise more than two to three crops a year depending upon rainwater and relying on primitive wells. Apart from this, another occupation of the residents of Indian enclaves is fishing.

The enclaves do not have any provision for purchasing and disposing of lands. The Indian people, who intend to live in these Indian enclaves permanently, have only the right to register their plots of land in their names.

Here, the cultivators are deprived of their rights because of the might’s of some Bangladeshi land-sharks. Sometimes, the villagers are compelled to leave their paternal property. As per rule or act, the land of enclaves are not sold or bought, except the inhabitants of the enclave people. Therefore, the inhabitants have to bear various troubles to inhabit there.

This is why; Bangladeshi administrators with some pleas often harass them. As a result, they are suffering a lot. Many of them, who cannot bear this harassment, sell their property to the Bangladeshi land-sharks and leave for Indian mainland forever.

On the other hand, the Bangladeshi land-sharks and the people gradually either are swallowing the lands of the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves by threat or by money or by force in an illegal way and it are continuing, even, after the demarcation. More than 40% (percent) to 45% (percent) of the land belongs to the Indian enclaves have been purchased by the Bangladeshi in the guise of the Indians.

Although, land of the Bangladeshi peoples are made protected. These ‘fake-Indians’ (that is, Bangladeshis, who are now still buying the lands of the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves in various ways) are registered these pieces of lands in their and the members of the family’s names, which offer dual citizen to them.

But as per Land Law of Bangladesh or Land Act of Bangladesh that a man can purchase not more than 60 bighas (that is, measures of land equal to 20 Kathas, that is, 1 Katha equal to 720 square feet or 8,64,000 square feet) of land in his name. But many of them use to purchase illegally the land of Indian enclave’s inhabitants, which Bangladesh Government pretends to over look.

On the other hand, the citizens of the Indian enclaves are getting themselves deprived of their own rights upon those illegally encroached or occupied the lands of the Indian enclaves. The people of these Indian enclaves have alleged that nothing happens even; many complain are lodged about this matter in both the countries.

In fact, the Indian enclaves are green-fields, full of crops and cows full of milk have captivated the Pakistanis, which even after the independence of Bangladesh do not think of shake off their intimacy with these well-watered land. These the then so-called Pakistani, presently known as Bangladeshi – people have been now keeping existence through various troubles with the help of political and administrative powers.

This is clear, even from the transfer of such types of lands. The Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) has reported that there are such 40-numbers to 50-numbers case of transfer of ownership of the lands of the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves that amount 80-acres to 85-acres of such land between January, 2000 to March, 2000.

The indifference attitude of the Government to this twice-told tale of human problem is astonishing. The Indian enclaves had multifarious problems and even, Radcliff Awards and Bagge Awards failed to sole these problems.

Although, to overcome the situation, an agreement was signed between the then Indian PM, Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistani PM, Feroz Khan Noon tried the chance to resolve the purulent matter on 10th September, 1958.

According to that agreement, it was decided that old Coochbehar enclaves of India in Pakistan would be exchanged against the Pakistani enclaves in India. But, for doing the same one could claim any compensation for extra area of land going to Pakistan.

As per Nehru-Noon pact, 1958, the total land area of the Indian enclaves is near about 32 square miles against the total land area of Bangladesh about 18 square miles. It is fact that this agreement put much stress upon the implementation of that Indira-Mujib agreement. But, this time it was decided that India would receive lesser area of land from Bangladesh than she would enjoy as per Indira-Mujib pact, 1974 in comparison to Nehru-Noon pact, 1958.

But, ultimately no proper solution came out for it. But, when, after 16 years later, that is, on 16th May, 1974, again India, under the PM of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and the PM of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman accepted to solve this burning issue through the exchange of the enclaves. But, the authorities got this pact an enigma with ‘internal and legal intricate’.

Although, Article 3 of the India-Bangladesh International Border Agreement, 16th May, 1974 (Concerning the Demarcation of Land Boundary), grants the right on the populaces living in these above enclaves, of staying on where they are as citizens of the nation to which the part shall be transferred or moved and pending demarcation of the international border and swap of territory by mutual pact, there should be no trouble of the status quo and peaceful situation shall be keep continue in the international border region. Article 1 of the pact offers that these above enclaves will be exchanged by the two nations.

Apart from this, the Bangladeshis are starting to live in the Indian enclaves without any ‘Passport’ or ‘Visa’ or ‘valid document’. In fact, the dispossession of the Indian Chhitmahali (that is, who are living in the enclave)s from their own motherland by the Bangladeshi people inhumanly since the beginning of the year, 1950 and from that period, the quitting nature from their homeland (that is, Indian enclaves) of chhitmahalis grew length and breadth. The first attack and torture hit the Adibashi Santhal tribe, (who made their shelter in those plots of land, which was covered by dense forests) then Koch Rajbongshi clan and at last Muslim race.

The enclavers cleared off these forests in order to build their sheds and so they were allowed to settle there without revenue. But, as time passed by the situation changed and the enclaves had to quit those plots of land.

Thus, minorities among the minority of whom 80% (percent) came to main land by 1956 to 1957 and then the Hindu, Rajbongshi and Muslim people of these chhitmahals began to come here by turn. Presently, about 1,000 to 1,500 families of these uprooted enclaves came into India and took shelter in North-Bengal, a part of West-Bengal.

In this connection, two Adibashi Refugee Camps (RC), one is Kadomonijote under Kharibari Block near India-Nepal international border and the other one is Gaishal in the district of North-Dinajpur (former East Dinajpur). Kadomonijote is beside the southern part of Mechi river in the district of Darjeeling. Nepal is the other side of Mechi River and after a few kilometers off stands the boundary of West-Bengal. From here, again commence the area of the other Indian state, Bihar.

Thus, Kadomonijote is a camp consisting of Nepalese, Bihari (India) refugee coming from Bangladesh and the inhabitants of the enclaves et cetera of 85-numbers of family. These people came to live here since, 1950. The land of this area is full of sand. It is about 85% (percent) and so very hard to produce paddy, et cetera.

The people of this region have an aptitude to cultivate paddy and tend animals, like cow, buffalo, goat, hen, swan, and etcetera. But, as this region is full of sand, the inhabitants get a little scope to produce paddy. As regards animal husbandry, finance is the most import problem and for this want of adequate finances, these people cannot carry out the works of the tending cattle et cetera. Therefore, they have been compelled to do no other job but to work as daily labour.

The nearest town from this place is about 15-kilometres to 16-kilometres. Bhdrapur, a noted town of Nepal situated here by Mechi River. It is a business center and a few mills are located at Bhadrapur. Many well to do middle and upper-middle-class people live here. The refugee-camp-mates come here to work in their houses. The people work here as daily-labourer or as rickshaw-pullers, hand-barrow-pullers, fish-seller, vegetable-seller, carpenters, cobblers and their helpers et cetera.

The other camp is ‘Gaishal’. In the year between 1950 to 1951, about 250-numbers to 300-numbers uprooted Indian chhitmahali came here from Indian enclave, Shalbari. These people built their huts in an old and deserted runway, which was used during the World War – II. The Government of India rehabilitated the refugees came from formerly East-Bengal, in the year, 1952.

As a result, the chhitmahalis then again forced to leave this place and went to Kishanganj district of Bihar. But, in the year, 1960, the malaria disease turned into epidemic in the entire Kishanganj district’s areas and these unfortunate chhitmahalis felt victim of this disease. Many died and the rest returned to their previous shelter at Gaishal.

But, (this time), the camp for these people was built at a little distance in a sandy shore of a dead river. Although, this was also a temporary shelter; because, the Teesta Dam Project again compelled them to turn into shelter less nomads. This broke the unity of the chhitmahalis. They broke into several groups. Some of them became irregular Tea Garden labours and some adopt other profession like porters, day-labourers and so on. The families were fragmented into many families. At present, there are 400-numbers of family, who live in he broken Jhupri (that is, low-hut)s built by the Teesta Canal.

In this connection, it may be referred about two RCs one of which is situated both sides of the hilly river, ‘Balashan’, 7 kilometres away from the Siliguri town. Apart from this, many uprooted chhitmahalis have come to take shelter here from former East-Pakistan, during India-Pakistan wars, 1965 and 1971 respectively.

The chief source of income of these chhitmahalis is to collect the stone chips from the dry bed of the river and sell them to builders, contractors, et cetera, who deals in to make the roads, buildings et cetera. Sometimes, they sell stone chips after breaking big boulders.

Every one of the families of the chhitmahalis directly or indirectly related to this particular odd job. They know very well that they will not be able to arrange their meals if they fail to attend their job even, a day or so. Their usual income minimum Rs. 20 to maximum Rs. 35 a day. This is why; most of the labours related with this job are children and women. This is the reason for, which they often fall victim of diseases like, cough and cold, tuberculosis, silicosis, blindness, et cetera.

The second camp is at Fulbari Teesta Khal (that is, Fulbari Teesta Canal) under Siliguri Sub-division of Darjeeling district on the way between Sub-division town, Siliguri and district headquarter town, Jalpaiguri under North Bengal sector of West-Bengal.

Here, in this camp live some Muslim families, who came from Shalbari enclave. The inhabitants of this chhitmahal were but well to do as a farmer. But at present, they are none but low or poor cottagers living in uncertainty. Circumstances have forced them to get into the above-mentioned jobs. Their monthly income is Rs. 350/400 to Rs. 450/500 only.

The uprooted enclave residents face a number of problems. These problems may be studied under two heads. Of them, the first one is poverty and second one is lack of security of life as citizen.

The economic asset of these chhitmahalis is only, ‘agriculture’. They have in need of cash but not kind. The ladies of these chhitmahals were kept themselves confined with household works. They cooked food and kept residence clean as far as possible.

Sometimes, they lend cooperation to their made heads in the fields. Even, the little children, old men, and old women are not exempted from this field works. So, the too use required to do some type of work to meet odd expense.

All these led them to earn exceptional experience of life losing their land, property and their kith and kin. This may be compared with the people, who were compelled to take shelter in India after ‘partition’. The chhitmahalis are thus reduced into the position of farthing less figures working as the earlier mention works and so on.

These people are deprived of the right to vote although they have been living in these places for last thirty years. They are not given any ration card red or pink. The only proof (Patta or Dakhila or of Land) they bear with them is nothing but a path or a document offered to them by Coochbehar Raj-Estate. This particular document may help them in forgery case of land transformation but not having the benefit of ration card or franchise. These people are thus deprived of all those opportunities awarded by the Government, which the people below poverty line have right to enjoy.

In between 1950-1952, some Muslim families living in the Indian mainland exchanged their landed property with the properties of the settlers of the Indian enclaves, especially, who belong to Hindu community and began to live there.

A large part of this Muslim community people now compel to leave the place, that is, Indian enclaves. A few of them were able to save their life and property with the help of their some influential relatives, who live in Bangladesh. These Muslim families, who came here to live exchanging their landed properties has plunged into the sea of untold misery.

Voting Right:

There is no election held either in Village Panchayat system or in state legislative since 1952. The inhabitants do not get their names enlisted in Votertalika (that is, Voter List or Electoral Roll).

The inhabitants of the Indian enclaves have been deprived of the right to exercise franchise like other citizens of the country. This happens during the Assembly and Member of Parliament Poll in West-Bengal. The officials related to it have stated that, as these people do not possess any identity of their citizenship. They are not allowed to cast their vote in spite of the various assurances or promises promised by the political leaders since 1950.

The inhabitants are also unfortunates in having social and economic rights. Even, the basic amenities are denied to them. They cannot enter the main land without the permission of IBSF jawans. They try to depend on the help of Bangladesh Government. But, the same is not possible for Bangladesh Government does not have any intention to provide any help for living a good life.

The chittmahalis (that is, who live in enclaves) have no political party and no leader of any sort who shall take interest with the inhabitants of these enclaves as because they have no right to cast their vote.

Administrative & Security System:

With the merger of Coochbehar into India and introduction of passport system, the inhabitants of these above enclaves began facing many troubles as limitations were placed on their ‘movement’. Following the atrocities committed by ‘Pakistani Army’ in the year, 1971, the Hindu families, who continued to live in the Indian enclaves in Bangladesh were displaced by force and most of above these enclaves were been taken over control by Pakistani Army. However, on the other side, the inhabitants of Bangladeshi enclaves, who had left, indeed, came back and claimed their land based on legal papers or documents. The populaces of Bangladeshi enclaves inside India are better off than the populaces of Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh.

Indeed, the inhabitants of these Indian enclaves, who are made, separated from the mainland, feel the need to enter their own motherland (India) under the cover of darkness. There are about 130-numbers of enclave in Bangladesh, where more than lakhas of Indians live, who have practically no relation with the people of their homeland.

These enclaves exist within Bangladesh and as such, the inhabitants fail to enjoy administrative facilities of India. They live neither as Bangladeshi nor as Indian.

These destitute, who are berefted of their soil and shelter and are now quite behind the law. Law cannot stand by them to rescue from any problem. Neither India nor Bangladesh does anything to help them. They do not know, where will they go to seek help if and when they are in any problem. They do not know what to be done, if there is any theft, robbery or any crime that often occur during harvest or watering the land. They have no opportunity to lodge any complain for if they go to do this, they will have to go to Bangladesh, where Bangladesh Defence Rifle (BDR) are patrolling who will not spare them to do this but put them behind the bar (that is, jail).

So, these people always try to avoid lodging complain to the BDR personnel. This is why, the inhabitants of these Indian enclaves are required to guard themselves and their property, paddy, cows and others and even their wives and daughters round the clock.

‘Might is right’ is the law of the Indian enclaves. Therefore, he who has this power can control all and enjoy more or less a good life. Because, there is no law, no reason, no Police and no administration. But, being stateless, they can be arrested any moment without notice and cause.

Already, many of them are taken away by BDR forcibly and then either made traceless or to involve in a false case and later, send them to prison as convicts, where the innocent Indians pass their life like beasts, day after day, month after month and also year after year without any charge.

In a word, undeclared Jungle-Raj is going on in the Indian enclaves by Bangladeshi anti-social elements. Because, here crime is not paid. In fact, the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves lack minimum security and protection.

Absence of Police Out Post (POP) and Security Guards Force (SGF) then to live in dismay. This has helped the miscreants to carry on their unlawful activities such as looting, plundering, robbery and so on. As a result, some have to leave for Bangladesh and some to ‘Indian Territory’. But, those, who cannot do this, are compelled to live a life of torture and ferment.

The people of the Indian enclaves have been facing such a type of fearful life since 1947. These enclaves belong to India but have existed in Bangladesh and this is why; the Government of Bangladesh cannot take any step to provide security to the inhabitants of these Indian enclaves. Here, he lords over other, who has manpower, muscle-power and money-power. Here, protectors are devourers.

Apart from this, molestation on temples (that is, religious centres) is a common feature in this place by the Bangladeshi miscreants. The inhabitants of the Indian enclaves have to endure everything silently. The inhabitants can’t lodged a complaint in the Police Station of Bangladesh, if any unlawful activities like murdered, rape or such other crimes are committed by a Bangladeshi to an Indian.

Even, unfortunate fact is that nobody comes to help them, when they are in danger. The Indian Police Station also does not receive any complaint made by the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves. Because of this, the numbers of incidents have made against them remain unheeded. They cannot think of going to court for justice. They are required to depend upon the Bangladesh Government for law and justice.

The Bangladeshi anti-social elements often setup open gambling centres in the villages of the Indian enclaves and create various troubles for the peace loving people. Sometimes, they take shelter in Indian Territory to escape their crimes committed in the country, vice-versa.

Although, they create atrocity upon the inhabitants when failed to receive any asylum. Sometimes, BDR jawans also accompany them in doing so. Even, they kidnap and rape the teenage girls, women and many of the Indians are killed, who oppose them.

In this way, these Bangladeshi antisocial elements and the BDR play ducks and drakes with the life and youth of the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves. They are thus forced to pass their lives in confusion.

So, finding no other alternative, some well to do persons of these enclaves go to Bangladesh, purchase some plots of land to settle their children and get escaped this unbearable conditions of life. In the enclaves, survival is very sinuous and so the inhabitants have to fight with odd situations. However, those, who try to this thing, either die or divested of all peace and prosperity.

It also be noted that some inhabitants of the Indian enclaves have no close relation with the Indians so far their social and economic matters are concerned. As a result, they institute matrimonial connection with the Bangladeshis.

The ladies of these enclaves cannot lead normal life like other Indians. Many raise questions about their chastity. This creates a bar in matters of matrimonial relation with others. The women of the enclaves are often become victims of different un-social activities such as: molestation, rape and other sorts of repression of body and mind.

Thus, repression on one hand and lack of protection on the other have compelled the people to build Village Defense Party (VDP) or Village Defense Force (VDF), popularly known as: Gram Surkhha Samiti (GSS), consists 40/50-numbers to 100/120-numbers of inhabitant of an enclave. These parties are conducted by Sector Commandant, Platoon Commandant, Wing Commander and Jawan (that is, Soldier), who also help them in these matters.

When any crime is committed, this VDP sends his men, that is, jawans to pick-up the criminal and bring for trial. It is done in the Union of Battalion Office do here punishment is inflicted according to the nature weight of the crime. There is also a room to keep the convict. The local people call it ‘prison-house’.

Apart from this, in case of land, the occupier of a plot of land really becomes its owner, if he is found using that plot of land at least for 12 years. The inhabitants of the enclaves are also aware of their good and so they try to which their cultivable-land by subscription.

In some Indian enclaves, there were POPs during Koch Dynesty. After independence, there were also some Indian Border Security Force (IBSF)’s jawans in International Border Out Post (IBOP)s do the job. But those IBOPs were withdrawn after the clash between India and Pakistan in (Northern) Indian sector in 1993 that still continues.

The social, political, economic, cultural, geographical, educational, environmental, et cetera conditions of the people of Indian enclaves are very pathetic and no being can stand it. Various sorts of outrages occur here now and then due to the absence of law and order that compels the Indians to turn into ‘refugee’ (and have settled in the Indian mainland permanently).

Here, both the ‘Hindu’ and the ‘Muslim’ live and suffer together. They are harassed, their houses are burnt down, food crops are illegally mowed, properties are looted and many of them are going to become penniless and pass the life like street-beggar. It seems that they live ‘nomadic-life’ and nothing more.

Further, those who have taken shelter in Indian Territory fail to receive any help from Government and Non Governmental Organization (NGO)s et cetera. Even, political and non-political organizations have not yet arranged to render any sort of assistant to them. Some of them are compelled to take shelter in neighbouring states.

Here, they earn livelihood either as daily-labour or as Rickshaw-puller, Hand-barraow-puller, Vegetable-seller, Fish-seller, et cetera. Sometimes, they sell their children, specially daughters to Middle-East countries to get involved in ‘flesh-trade’, begging or used in ‘camel-racing’ with the help of some touts or agents or middlemen or they are locally called Dalal, where they suffer hellish problems.

Therefore, when the people of the world, as well as India has been raising their voice against violation of ‘Human-Rights’ and the Bangladesh Defence Rifle (BDR), Bangladeshi anti-social elements and Islamic religious fundamentalists et cetera are creating inhuman activities directly or indirectly upon the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves, at that time, the world human-right activists are keeping silence.

Education System:

The people of the Indian enclaves have been deprived of the facilities of education. The absences of educational institutions do not offer the children of these enclaves to know the letters and acquire knowledge. This is why; they get their children admitted in the schools of Bangladesh. The absence of Lower Primary School (LPS), Middle English School (MES) and High School compels them to go to Bangladesh. The children do not get any opportunity to read and know history, geography and social studies of India, although they are out and out Indians. They are compelled to read these subjects of Bangladesh that comply with different mode of living.

There are some small schools in the Indian enclaves but these schools have neither teachers nor materials like blackboard, desk-bench, chalk-duster, et cetera. Some schools have one or two teachers but they are untrained. It is also an astonishing fact that there is one or two schools in some enclaves but these schools have no enrolments (for students).

Further, there is no scheme to provide books; pens, papers and mid-day-meal, that is, food for Tiffin in the schools of the enclaves exist in Indian Territory. But, these are available in schools of Bangladeshi enclaves. All these facilities tempt most of the guardians to go and purchase land in Bangladesh to have permanent settlements for better education also.

The educational institutions of the enclaves after 1947 have either been closed or destroyed. So, the children of these places have to prosecute their studies at home (as ‘private-tuition’). The institutions were at that time, prior to 1947 maintained from the exchequer of the Coochbehar-estate. But, all these are no more.

Further, financial crunch and repeated attack upon these institutions by the Bangladeshi anti-social elements led their impending collapse. Some students of the Indian enclaves face various troubles to prosecute their studies, as they have to go to schools of the other Indian enclaves obtaining the permission from BDR personnel that often they fail to get. To do this, they require Indian Identity Card (IIC), but yet they do not have any opportunity to get them and so they have to depend upon Bangladeshi schools, colleges et cetera to fetch their educational qualifications.

Health Service System:

The enclaves lack good health service. There is neither any Hospital nor any Health Centre nor Maternity Home. Therefore, whenever anybody falls ill or becomes the victim of any disease, he or she is required to go to nearby health-centre of Bangladesh. The inhabitants use foreign currency to buy their health service from Bangladesh.

In some enclaves, there are one or two small health-centres but these are not well equipped. Here, doctors are quite helpless and as such instead of giving medicines, they offer only prescriptions. Want of ambulance many times force the patients to face many troubles.

The chhitmahalis and their children do not have any opportunity of vaccination or anti diseases injection for want of the facilities of medical helps of any sort and so the death rate of the children is very high. As a result, sometimes, these children fall victims of ‘Polio’ and such other diseases.

Sometimes, most of the ailed patients die of diseases like, diphtheria, typhoid, Haam or Haambasanta (that is, measles), Dhanustankar (that is, tetanus), cholera, pneumonia, Kala-Azaar (that is, black-fever), diarrhea, et cetera.

Apart from this, these places of enclaves have no opportunity of maternity homes or such other institutions like that and so childing mother often dies premature death. The inhabitants of the enclaves have no other alternative but to take help of untrained country physician known as Kabiraj (that is, exorcist, or locally called Ojha) and also the quack, who (on failure to cure serious diseases,) treat these unfortunate women and their children with country made medicines or empiric cure.

The inhabitants of the enclaves have no idea about ‘Family Planning’. The girls of the Indian enclaves get early married due to the threat of Bangladeshi miscreants. It happens, when they are 12 or 13-yeatrs-old, which also compel them to attain early motherhood and premature death both.

Even, Road & Transport System has paralyzed, tottering condition of Drinking Water System, absent of Electrification System and Post & Telecommunication System and bad Sanitary System et cetera that have smashed the lifeline of the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves.

Natural Disaster:

The rivers of the enclaves are not free from exploitation. These are the ideal places for pisci-culture years ago. These rivers are auctioned and the money acquired from this actuation is deposited to the exchequer of Bangladesh. This is how, the illegal influence of Bangladesh over these Indian enclaves enduring Indian natural wealth which in turn creating ecological imbalance in the entire region. The other cause of this is the destruction of the natural wealth, such as: chopping off the trees like Sal, Segun and such other things.


The chhitmahalis have no strong organization. The reason is that they lack this type of experience. Added to this, it is their chief problem to arrange two-meals-a-day for they have neither men power nor any money. Many of them got disconnected with their family.

Further, no political organization came forward to form any such party for carrying on any movement, which could solve their problems related to food, shelter and cloth. As a result, the chhitmahalis devoid of human rights had to pass a pitiable life.

However, by 1960, an organization Chhitmahal Utbastu Samiti (that is, Enclave Refugee Committee) by name was formed. But, in fact, among the members of the organization, the original chhitmahalis were very few. Therefore, the question of rehabilitation of the uprooted chhitmahalis got priority instead of solving their chief problems. As a result, the organization took a wrong turn.

In the mean time, in 1997, the members of the Indian Enclave Refugee Association (IERA) sent 14 to 15 points a memorandum to the then Indian PM, Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral stating their pitiable plights as regards their lands in the enclaves and about their rehabilitation along with the question of exchange of land, but in vain. This apathy indicates a life-long distress to the inhabitants of the Indian enclaves and financial stringency. As a result, some of the inhabitants have turned half-mad as they are compelled to leave their paternal property.

“It is very remorseful for us that we have not done anything for these people so far their rights, security and rehabilitation are concerned …..,” said the septuagenarian of Haldibari area in Coochbehar district under North-Bengal sector of West-Bengal, Sailen Chakraborty, who is the member of IERA.

In the year, 1999, the uprooted inhabitants of the Indian chhitmahal formed an organization, Association for Protection of Citizen’s Rights for Indian Chhitmahal Residents & Oustees (APCRICRO) by a convention at Haldibari in the district of Coochbehar under North Bengal sector of West-Bengal.

The policy makers of this committee were the inhabitants of the enclave. No one can have its membership if he or she is not related to these people. There is an advisory committee to guide the organization in every step of its activities.

The foremost works of this committee is to short out the basic problems and establish intimacy with other uprooted chhitmahalis, who live united. Presently, there are 48 committees interlinked with this organization. Before offering membership to anybody everyone is required to prove his identity, whether he or she is an inhabitant of the Indian enclaves.


a) We the citizen of India and we owe allegiance to the Constitution of India and so we desire both honour and respect as the citizen of India.

b) Considering the clause under Indira-Mujib Pact, 1974 (01 Number Article of 12 Number Paragraph) and putting importance on the desires and needs of the Chhitmahalis, the problems are required to be solved.

c) The enclaves of India will have to be inter-linked with mainland through the system ‘corridor’, whenever and wherever possible.

d) Finding out the number of Indian citizens and uprooted refugees living in the enclaves and collecting and compiling all the data regarding the socio-economic conditions and forming a party with the inhabitants of the enclaves, refugees and Government of Bangladesh, a research work will have to be initiated.

e) The chhitmahalis, who were forced to come and take shelter in India due to riot at fray and devastation.

f) The Articles 2 and 3 of the Indira-Mujib agreement regarding Adverse Possession are immediately implemented with a view to providing security of life and property and peace of the enclaves.

Not only that as per the constitutional requirement, Government of Bangladesh has ratified the Indira- Mujib Act, 1974 in the Bangladesh Parliament immediately, while the Government of India declines to do the same repeatedly.”

Indeed, enclave is a peculiar phenomena existing in the India-Bangladesh international boundary in the Cooch-Behar district of the Eastern Indian State, West Bengal (WB). Possibly, such phenomenon does not exist anywhere else in the globe. An enclave may be illustrated as an ‘area’ of one nation lying entirely within the territory of another nation without any physical contiguity with the parent company.

But, most the interesting fact is that some of the enclaves are situated inside another enclave (see sketch below). A sketch of one of the enclaves is given below.

Source : Border Security Force Of India (BSFI)

“Look, enclave ‘as independent state of exclaves of a neighbouring nation, which pierce the host country.” Not only that, these enclaves become suitable points or places for illegal infiltrations, human trafficking, smuggling, importation of contrabands and avoiding customs and excise duties, illegal religious fundamental activities, and so on.

Because of the position, it is impossible for any respective government or administration to rule or control these particular areas, which are fallen in these above enclaves. Because of this, these above enclaves become safe haven for the anti-socials, anti-nationals, criminals, hooligans and unlawful activities. It is fact that the breaches of the territorial limits by the inhabitants of enclaves are a common characteristic as the dwellers are reliant on the nation by which they are surrounded for their day-to-day wants. Even, these enclaves have high rate of offense resultantly the peace and harmonies in these areas are destabilized,” defined one of the writer-cum-observers of India.

Notwithstanding that and whatever may be the causes or reasons, at last, India and Bangladesh have agreed to initiate steps to facilitate the exchange of enclaves. On 11th November, 2010, the Foreign Ministry, Government of India, said that after discussions by the 4th India Bangladesh Joint Boundary Working Group (IBJBWG), set up in December, 2000, in the capital of India, New Delhi, and held between 10th-11th November, 2010, that the long pending disputed issues were resolved. These included the un-demarcated international border between the two nations, including complicated matters – the territories in Adverse Possession and Enclaves. The group met initially on these issues in July, 2001, and has completed four meetings so far. In this context, it can be mentioned here that in January, 2010, Indian PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Bangladesh PM, Sheikh Hasina Wazed had already agreed to solve each and every outstanding issue, keeping to the spirit of the Land Boundary Agreement, 1974, and to convene the IBJBWG to take further action.

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Shib Shankar Chatterjee
Shib Shankar Chatterjee is a former BBC, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Statesman & The Telegraph Contributor-cum-Correspondent from Northeast India, who specializes in investigations of important issues affecting the people of South Asia, specially, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan & Myanmar.