Bizarre Border Dispute Ends After 70 Years

50K stateless people can now call India or Bangladesh home
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2015 9:11 AM CDT
Bizarre Border Dispute Ends After 70 Years
Bangladesh's Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) raises the national flag after Bangladesh and India officially exchanged the adversely possessed enclaves at Dashiarchhara, in Kurigram enclaves, Bangladesh, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015.   (AP Photo)

For nearly seven decades, some 50,000 residents of India and Bangladesh have existed in a kind of limbo, tied up in one of the strangest border disputes in living memory. But with the stroke of midnight on Friday, their lives may have become a lot easier. As part of an agreement reached in 2011 and ratified in June, 162 pockets of land belonging to one country but surrounded by another—111 Indian plots in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi parcels in India—hoisted new national flags on July 31, reports the Wall Street Journal. The enclaves joined the country that surrounds them, while 37,000 Indians and 14,000 Bangladeshis now have a choice: Stay and accept their new nationality, or move, reports the AP. While neither option is necessarily convenient, the Washington Post gave a hypothetical that shows just how inconvenient the previous situation could be.

Someone living in an enclave might technically need a visa to enter the country that surrounds their land, but getting that visa would require passing through the other country so they could get the visa from a major city in their homeland. And then there was the third-order Indian enclave of Dahala Khagrabari—the only one of its kind in the world—which was enclosed within a Bangladeshi enclave, which was framed by an Indian enclave, which was surrounded by Bangladesh. Most enclaves also had little administration or infrastructure; one man describes sneaking past border guards to get to school. A Bangladeshi official tells the AP no one from Bangladeshi enclaves within India has requested to be moved to Bangladesh; 979 people from Indian enclaves have asked for such a relocation to India. (This US-Canada border dispute could get violent.)

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