Woes of ex-enclave elderly woman

Dhaka,  Sat,  03 December 2016
Published : 25 Nov 2016, 11:14:47 | Updated : 25 Nov 2016, 13:23:00

Torn apart by exchange of now-defunct enclaves, elderly woman frets over fate of children in India

Shamsunnahar, 55, an inhabitant of former Indian enclave Dashiarchhara in Kurigram, could not get a last glimpse of her eldest son Shamsul Haque who died in India just over two months ago.

Shamsul, who was in his mid-thirties, died of fever nearly one year after he along with all his family members except his mother and youngest brother, went to India choosing Indian citizenship during the exchange of 162 enclaves between Bangladesh and India.

In the last one year, Shamsunnahar, a widow of freedom fighter Waliullah Patwary who died in 2012, could not meet any of her six children who left Bangladesh for India in November 2015.

During the exchange of enclaves that began on July 31 midnight in 2015, her four sons, two daughters, two daughters in-law and two grandchildren received Indian citizenship leaving her and her youngest son, class-VII student Khairul Islam, in Dashiarchhara- one of 111 Indian ex-enclaves inside Bangladesh territory.

"Can I see my children no more? People say that they (six children) will never be able to come here," Shamsunnahar implored with tears in her eyes.

"My son Shamsul died of fever. But I could not get the last glimpse of him. Why did they go to India leaving their motherland?" she said.

She said her four sons took away their two sisters as there is no guardian for them in Dashiarchhara, the largest former Indian enclave.

Noting that her other family members are living in Deenhata camp of Cooch Bihar of India, she said, adding that she is in touch with them over mobile phone.

The ten members of the family who left Bangladesh are her four sons Shamsul Haque, Shahjahan Ali, Rabiul Islam and Raihan Ali, two daughters Asma Akter and Kadiza Akter, two daughters in-law Rashida Khatun and Lailu Khatun, and two grandsons Ruman and Sadique.

Of them, Asma and Khadiza are pursuing their studies in India. Asma completed HSC in 2015, while Kadiza was a class-VII student before leaving for India, their mother said.

Shamsul Haque, who had a job in Haryana state of India, died few months after a baby girl was born in his family.

"Though they (her children) say they are well in India, I think they are in trouble there. They are still in camp," Shamsunnahar, who refused to leave the land of her husband in Dashiarchhara.

Since their departure, she and Khairul have been living at a shabby and tiny tin-shed home in Somonnoypara of the ex-enclave at Fulbari Upazila. 

She leads her two-member family on 12-decimal land with what she gets as monthly freedom fighter allowance.

She, however, said she exercised her franchise for the first time casting vote in the Union Parishad election held on October 31 last.

Like many women voters, she cast her vote at Sheikh Fazilatunnessa Dakhil Madrasha polling station under Sadar Union of Fulbari Upazila.

She felt pleased by exercising her voting rights as a Bangladeshi.

"I'm glad and feel good that I've been able to cast vote in Bangladesh. But I'm not happy as my son (youngest child) Shamsul Haque died. I could not meet my children living in India since their departure.”

General Secretary of the Bangladesh Chapter of now-defunct Indo-Bangla Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee Golam Mostafa said most of the ex-enclave people now cannot apply for passport as they are yet to receive national identity cards or birth registration certificates.

Mostafa said a total of 254 people left Dashiarchara for India and they are now living in Deenhata camp, 30 kilometres from the ex-enclave.

According to the India-Bangladesh first-ever joint headcount conducted in 2011, there were 7,272 people in Dashiarchhara. But the number is 8,992 as per unofficial count of the committee, he said.

Mostafa said some 880 people from the former Indian enclaves went to India, while none came to Bangladesh from now-defunct Bangladeshi enclaves.

According to the joint headcount, as many as 37,383 people were in 111 ex-Indian enclaves, while 14,090 people in 51 ex-Bangladeshi enclaves, according to a news agency.

ZR

 
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