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30 Dec 2016

Need: name of real father - One-time enclave youths who used fake names face a test

MAIN UDDIN CHISTI, TT, Cooch Behar, Dec. 29: Rahaman Ali wants to change the name of the father.
His intention might seem amusing, but to Rahaman the consequences of not changing the name could be serious.
Rahaman, a master's degree holder in political science and a resident of Poaturkuthi, one of the 51 former enclaves of Bangladesh that merged with the Indian mainland on July 31, 2015, had used the name of his uncle, an Indian citizen, to study as an Indian, though in reality he was a Bangladeshi earlier.
Following the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh, people like Rahaman chose to become Indian. Now, he wants to change all documents and put his father's name in his documents of educational qualifications, right from the Madhyamik admit card.
"A considerable number of youths, who had been born in these former enclaves, had used the names of their relatives or acquaintances living in the adjoining villages as their fathers' names to start their education (in India). If they had used their real fathers' names, they would have never got admission in schools and colleges as they were Bangladeshi nationals and did not have passports or visas," Diptiman Sengupta, a BJP leader who was associated with the movement to end the half-a-century-old issue of enclaves, said.
Rahaman had used the name of Sahar Ali, one of his uncles who stays in Khatamari, an Indian village close to Poaturkuthi. His father's name is Naskar Ali, who stays with him.
The 25-year-old, who earns a living by providing private tuitions, said: "After the agreement, we have become Indians. Our voter cards have been issued by the administration where my father's name is correct. On the other hand, my documents of educational qualifications have my uncle's name as my father's. I was forced to do it so that I could study and do not stay illiterate. Now that the problem of enclaves is over, I want this change," he said.
The change, he said, is necessary as otherwise, he cannot show his educational qualifications in case he applies for any job or for any loan for self-employment.
Over 100 former enclave residents have a problem similar to Rahaman's.
Jyotsna Khatun, Saddam Hossain and Jainal Abedin, all residents of former enclaves, had used their neighbours' names when told to give their fathers' names.
"There are more than 100 such people like me who are either continuing their education or have finished it," Jyotsna, a Class XII student of Chowdhuryhat High School, said.
In her Madhyamik admit card, her father's name is Ajit Khan, a resident of Khatamari village. Her real father is Karim Sheikh.
"We have no other option other than to approach the administration, requesting this change. What we did was illegal but we had done it only to continue our studies. I am an Indian now and under the state's rules, I can get an OBC certificate. But unless my father's name is changed, I cannot show my educational qualifications," Jyotsna said.
Jainal Abedin of Mashaldanga, a former enclave located in Dinhata subdivision and around 50km from Cooch Behar, has finished his masters. His entire set of educational qualifications shows that his father's name is Belal Hossain, a resident of Khonchabari village of the same subdivision.
Belal is his uncle's neighbour whose name he had used for education. His father's name is Belal Sheikh.
"I have contacted other youths of former enclaves who face the same problem and we are trying to prepare a database containing details of each of them. If required, we will go to the offices of the Madhyamik board and higher secondary council to get the necessary changes done," Abedin said.
Under the boundary agreement, inked first by then Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in 1974, India and Bangladesh were to exchange enclaves that legally belong to one of them but are embedded inside the territory of the other.
A 2011 protocol was signed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Rehman's daughter, current Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina, when he visited Dhaka. But the Manmohan government failed to get the support of the Opposition parties - including the now-ruling BJP at the time - for the pact, which needed Parliament's ratification.
That ratification came in May 2015 after a series of political manoeuvres that earned Naremdra Modi support even from Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee - a vocal critic of the pact until a few months before.
Partha Pratim Roy, the Cooch Behar MP who is also a member of Madhyamik board, said he was aware of the issue. "It is an open secret that students from erstwhile enclaves used fake names of those of their fathers'. They should communicate the issue to me in writing so that I can take it up at the necessary quarters. I need to check out whether there are any such provisions and any legal bindings to it," the MP said.
Senior administrative officials of Cooch Behar said the change was likely to be done.
"It is an exceptional case.... These youths should come to us with all their details so that we can forward their applications to the state education department," P. Ulganathan, the district magistrate of Cooch Behar, said.
The department, administrative sources said, can consult with legal experts and then issue an order, mentioning necessary rectification.
"These youths have appeared in the exams and have passed like any other candidate.... We believe the matter would be sympathetically considered by the state," sources said.

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