Distribution of smart national identity cards among the residents of Dasiachhara, a remote ex-enclave under Phulbari of Kurigram, began on Monday.
Chief election commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed handed over smart NID cards to 20 residents of the ex-enclave at a programme of NID card distribution at Kalirhat bazar in Dasiachhara around 12:30pm.
Addressing the programme, the CEC said, ‘Smart NID card is a vital document of one’s citizenship. Preserve it with care. The government has done a lot for your development. Prepare yourselves to grow as worthy citizens to establish your rights.’
The CEC further said, ‘These cards have been imported. These valuable cards have to be preserved carefully. If it is lost it will be an expensive and time-consuming process to get it back.’
Election commissioner Shah Nawaz, commissioner Md Abu Hafiz, commissioner Md Abdul Mobarak, Kurigram deputy commissioner Khan Md Nurul Amin, among others, spoke at the programme jointly organised by the district administration and the upazila election office.
Expressing her joy after receiving the smart NID card, Champa Khatu, a resident of Dasiachhara, said, ‘Today, we got the identity of Bangladesh. It’s great! Now we’re smart citizens.’
Deputy commissioner Nurul Amin said the residents of Dasiachhara are getting the smart NID cards within one year of the enclave exchange under a pilot project of the Election Commission. Some 1.14 lakh residents of Phulbari upazila will all get the smart NID cards gradually.
The home ministry on April 11 last published a gazette notification providing a total of 37,535 enclave dwellers with Bangladesh citizenship in line with the Citizenship Act 1951.
The EC could not enroll Bangladeshi nationals residing in the 51 enclaves adversely located within the Indian territories despite its several efforts since 2008 as the home and foreign ministries did not give clearance saying that the issue of exchanging enclaves between the two neighbouring countries was under active consideration.
Following the ratification of LBA by Indian Loka Sabha and Rajya Sabha unanimously in May 2015, the LBA was implemented from the midnight of July 31, 2015 ending the decade-old sufferings of the people living in enclaves on both sides of Bangladesh and India.
Under the agreement, India exchanged 111 enclaves measuring 17,160 acres to Bangladesh and received 51 enclaves covering 7,110 acres. The enclaves’ people had the option to choose the citizenship of either Bangladesh or India.