On July 31st 2015 the enclaves that formed one of the world's most complicated borders were officially absorbed in to the countries that surrounded them in a land-mark land swap between India and Bangladesh. And the people that lived in them will finally receive citizenship in their chosen country.
Enclaves, locally known in this region as chitmahals, are small pockets of sovereign land completely surrounded by another sovereign nation. Approximately 160 enclaves exist on either side of the India-Bangladesh border. For 68 years the 50,000 plus inhabitants of these enclaves have lived a difficult existence, stranded from their home nation and ignored by the country that surrounds them.
In theory even leaving their enclaves was illegally crossing an international border and for decades it has been very difficult for them to receive even the most basic of rights whether education or health. Even the police have no jurisdiction in the enclaves leaving them essentially lawless.
As of mid-2015 the people were allowed to choose. None of the Bangladeshi citizens of India's chitmahals chose to return to Bangladesh and so will become India citizens. Yet nearly 1000 Indian residents of Bangladesh's enclaves chose to become Indian citizens and in the month's that followed that historic day they would re-locate their lives to start a new but unknown chapter.
This documentary was shot in the last 'official' weeks of the chitmahals in Bangladesh before their complete dispansion and shows the harsh realities of the past and the uncertainty of their future.
First published on Al Jazeera USA