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Victims of Indo-Bangla border dispute vote for the first time

  • Published at 10:01 am May 8th, 2016
  • Last updated at 12:19 am June 15th, 2016
Victims of Indo-Bangla border dispute vote for the first time
The people who officially became Indian citizens through the exchange of enclaves between Bangladesh and India exercised their franchise for the first time in the West Bengal state elections. The elections were held on Thursday where there were about 10,000 potential new voters from the former enclaves. According to the Economic Times, more than three-quarters of the new voters are thought to be Muslims. "It is like a dream come true for me,” The Washington Post quoted 103-year-old Asgar Ali. He was talking to reporters after casting vote on Thursday. Despite their newfound electoral power, Ali's grandson explained that the mechanics of how to actually vote had been a problem for them. "Since nobody from our family or our neighbourhood had ever voted, we didn't [know] how to cast [a] vote," Ali's grandson Jaynal Abedin told reporters. 1 He went on to say: "But we got help from polling officials who explained everything.” For almost 70 years, Ali was one of tens of thousands of people stuck in the border dispute between Bangladesh and India. For complicated historical reasons, there had been more than 160 enclaves — small areas of sovereignty completely surrounded on all sides by another country — in Cooch Behar along the India-Bangladesh border. Many of the people living in these enclaves were virtually stateless and voting was generally the least of their worries. They were cut off from state amenities such as water and power. The documents on ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) were exchanged between Bangladesh and India on June 6, 2015.