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Rajnath visits Bangladesh border, talks to enclave dwellers

Rajnath visits Bangladesh border, talks to enclave dwellers

Siliguri/Tin Bigha (West Bengal): Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on a two-day visit to West Bengal, surveyed the India-Bangladesh border and visited border enclaves in Cooch Behar district on Tuesday.

Although scheduled earlier, Rajnath Singh's visit to the border came a day after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a charge sheet before a Kolkata court said the terrorists involved in the Burdwan blast had conspired with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh to overthrow the government in Dhaka.

Besides holding talks with officers of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), the home minister said a letter to the Mamata Banerjee government has been sent for acquiring land for fencing parts of the border that remain unfenced.

"It was a cordial meet with BSF and BGB officers. Besides visiting the border, the visit was also to enquire about the problems that our BSF personnel may have. I was here also to look into how the border area development works is progressing," Rajnath Singh told media persons.

The home minister met BGB officers at Panbari border outpost before heading towards the Tin Bigha corridor, a strip of land leased to Bangladesh to allow access to its Dahagrama-Angarpota enclaves.

"The visit was also aimed to gather information about the enclave dwellers," Rajnath Singh said after visiting a Bangladeshi enclave in Balapukhri in Cooch Behar and taking stock of the ground reality in the area ahead of the implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh.

Implementation of the LBA, agreed between the two nations in 1974, will lead the exchange of enclaves.

While Bangladesh has 51 enclaves in India, there are 111 Indian enclaves spread over four districts of Bangladesh along the Cooch Behar border.

Though not allowed to talk to Rajnath Singh, the Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee (BBEECC) -- an organisation fighting for the rights of the enclave dwellers -- said it submitted a memorandum to the home minister.

"While the BSF allowed us inside the security zone, those accompanying Rajnath Singh prevented us from meeting him. We, however, managed to give a memorandum of our demands concerning the enclave dwellers," committee convener Diptiman Sengupta said.

Rajnath Singh also said a proposal has been sent to the West Bengal government for acquiring land for fencing the unfenced border.

"We have submitted a proposal for land acquisition to the state government. If it is accepted, then the entire unfenced border will be fenced," he said.

The home minister would head to border outposts in the Sundarbans on Wednesday.

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