Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
The signing of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement by the governments of India and Bangladesh on 6 June 2015 involved the exchange of the 162 enclaves located along the India-Bangladesh border and the option of choosing citizenship by the inhabitants of these border enclaves. Alongside the establishment of territorial contiguity, India added 14,864 citizens as all the inhabitants of the 51 former Bangladeshi enclaves in India opted for Indian citizenship while only 922 inhabitants from the 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh opted for Indian citizenship and moved to India. While most of these inhabitants are poor rural cultivators, many also work as migrant labour in Indian cities, all of whom have historically suffered marginalization due to the absence of the state in these land pockets. The Muslim inhabitants of the former Bangladeshi enclaves in India have been particularly marginalized by the boundaries resulting from the India-Bangladesh border. This paper addresses the question of how the Muslim inhabitants of the former enclaves navigate the systemic forces of Indian citizenship and the boundaries informed by the India Bangladesh border. In context of the exclusionary discourse against "Bangladeshi infiltration" and the tightening of the citizenship regime in India, I analyse their social practices and negotiations in response to the transformations taking place in their lifeworld and demonstrate that their negotiations and accommodations with the power nexus of the local bureaucracy and political parties are processes of resistance within the limitations that their contexts allow, against the boundaries of exclusion, diminishing voice and rights.