Guwahati: The land swap
accord between India and Bangladesh has triggered angry protests
in Assam with border villagers, student groups and the opposition
calling it an 'act of betrayal' and vowing not to let the
territories be handed over to Bangladesh.
Under the deal, India would get back 111 disputed enclaves under
adverse possession of Bangladesh, while 55 such enclaves would go
"The deal is nothing but an act of betrayal. We shall not allow an
inch of Assam's land to be handed over to Bangladesh," President
of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Chandra Mohan Patowary, told IANS
The accord was signed Tuesday in Dhaka between Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was also present during the
signing of the agreement.
Both countries since long were claiming certain stretches of land.
The dispute started when fencing work began about a decade ago to
demarcate the boundaries.
During the process of construction of barbed wire fencing by
India, Bangladesh objected to certain areas and claimed those
enclaves as theirs.
The fencing work got stalled in many such sectors.
In all, about 55 such enclaves were under adverse possession by
India, despite being disputed.
Likewise, 111 enclaves were under adverse possession by
Bangladesh, although India claimed it was their territory.
The land agreement between the two countries, however, decided
that the dispute be resolved - those disputed enclaves under
possession by India would be handed over to Bangladesh and
The exact area of the entire enclaves could not be immediately
"What is the point of carrying the disputes for decades that has
resulted in strained relations between the countries? So, it is
better to resolve once and for all. There is also no question of
who is gaining or who is losing by way of this land swap pact,"
Tarun Gogoi told IANS.
But no one is willing to buy the chief minister's reasoning.
"Tarun Gogoi is the weakest chief minister in the whole of India
and his act of surrendering Assam's territory is enough to
substantiate our claims.
"See how Mamata Banerjee stood firm and refused to part with even
a drop of the Teesta water and see how Tarun Gogoi meekly
surrendered before Dhaka," said Sammujjal Bhattacharya, advisor of
the All Assam Students' Union (AASU).
Banerjee did not visit Dhaka protesting the Teesta water sharing
The AGP, AASU, and several other political parties and pressure
groups are planning separate protests to prevent the land swap
agreement from being implemented.
Effigies of the chief minister and the prime minister were burnt,
while statewide demonstrations were being organised to drum up
public support against the move.
"We shall lobby in parliament to ensure the land pact is not
implemented," senior local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader
Siddharth Bhattacharya said.
Border villagers in at least two enclaves in the western Dhubri
and southern Karimganj districts were equally peeved with the
"We are prepared to shed blood but at no cost shall we allow our
land to be handed over to Bangladesh," said Arindam Das, a
villager in one of the disputed enclaves in Karimganj district.
India and Bangladesh have 2,979 km of land border and 1,116 km of
riverine boundaries. The Indian states of West Bengal, Meghalaya,
Mizoram, Assam and Tripura share the 4,095-km border with
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