Tripura for fresh survey to demarcate boundary

Agartala, Oct 1 (IANS) The Tripura government wants to undertake a fresh survey to demarcate the boundary along the state’s Muhurichar, the lone enclave that remained undecided even though India and Bangladesh swapped 161 enclaves.

“If a certain portion of the 36.66 acres land of disputed Muhurichar is given to Bangladesh, the security of the south Tripura district headquarters – Belonia – would be in danger,” Tripura Revenue, Health and PWD Minister Badal Choudhury told reporters here on Thursday.

He said “The Tripura government has already requested External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister Rajnath Singh to undertake a fresh joint boundary survey (by India and Bangladeshi authorities) and prepare a new index map along the border with Muhurichar.”

Choudhury is his letters, told the ministers that a fresh joint boundary survey must be conducted in accordance with the 2011 protocol, which was signed between former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on September 7, 2011.

“Rajnath Singh in reply to our letter said that the issue would be looked into,” he added.

The minister said that the problem was created after the Survey of India along with its Bangladeshi counterpart unilaterally provisionally demarcated ‘Muhurichar’ in 2012 without any consultation with the Tripura government.

As part of the implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) of 1974 and its 2011 Protocol, India was scheduled to give away to Bangladesh 17,160 acres, covering 111 enclaves and in return India received 7,110 acres comprising 51 enclaves.

On July 31 midnight, at least 52,000 inhabitants of 162 enclaves in Bangladesh and India got ‘freedom’ for the first time in 68 years, officially becoming citizens of either of the two nations.

Of the 162 enclaves, two — southern Tripura’s Muhurichar was scheduled to go to Bangladesh and northern Tripura’s Chandannagar was projected to remain with India.

“There is no problem over 138.41 acres of Chandannagar enclave. We also want to give Muhurichar to Bangladesh, but not spoiling the interest of the state,” Choudhury said adding that the state government also demanded Rs 40.77 crores from the central government to provide compensation to the affected farmers in Muhurichar.

The sixth Bangladesh-India Joint Boundary Working Group meeting held in Dhaka on July 23-24 discussed a new joint survey in the Muhurichar area.

In the meeting, the Indian side was led by ministry of external affairs joint secretary Sripriya Ranganathan and the Bangladesh team was headed by home affairs ministry’s additional secretary (political) Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Muneem.

Ranganathan, in a letter, assured the Tripura chief secretary that “MEA would not take any steps that are at variance with the provision contained in the LBA 1974 and 2011 Protocol.”

According to Choudhury, there are three separate cremation grounds of three different communities existing in the Muhurichar area for several decades.

“The real tussle between India and the then East Pakistan over the Muhurichar area began in early 1965. For many years, army soldiers of the then East Pakistan and subsequently Bangladeshi border guards occasionally fired at the Indian side killing a few people and injuring many,” he said.

Since the partition of India in 1947, the midstream of Muhuri river along Muhurichar was considered a natural boundary for both nations.

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