An Indian ‘king’ of an African land
Dehradun: Suyash Dixit, a 24-year-old businessman from Indore, has proclaimed himself ‘king’ of a 2,000sq km area between Egypt and Sudan, which is the largest unclaimed habitable territory in the world. What is more, his online petition to the United Nations seeking recognition of his claim has found 800 supporters, and counting.
Dixit, CEO of a tech firm, was travelling to Cairo for a software developers’ conference at the beginning of November when he read about Bir Tawil, a large stretch of territory between the two countries. Because of a complicated colonial-era border demarcation history, the swathe, which has no permanent residents, is both arid and remote. It has therefore not been claimed by either country since 1902. This has led to several adventurers and explorers staking ownership of it, although international recognition for such claims has not been forthcoming. In fact, as reported by TOI then, American Jeremiah Heaton had staked claim to the land in 2015 after his six-year-old daughter Emily asked him if she could be a real princess.
“While in Cairo, I decided to travel to the place. I took a connecting flight from Cairo to Abu Simbel on November 4 after the conference, and travelled in a rented car for six hours through the desert to reach Bir Tawil. There is no road, but it was not a difficult trip, although I was afraid of being abducted by terrorists. There, I realised nobody was bothered about it, so I decided to claim it for myself. I planted sunflower seeds there, which is a traditional way to claim ownership of land,” Dixit told TOI on Tuesday.
Dixit has even designed a flag for the ‘Kingdom of Dixit’, and planted it at Bir Tawil. “After returning, I wrote an online petition to the UN informing them about my claim, and requesting recognition, although I am not very optimistic that they will reply. However, in just a day’s time, I have received support from more than 800 people for my claim, so it might just happen,” he said.
Dixit said while his brother supported his idea, his parents were “furious” at first after he told them of his claim. “However, it did not last long as I made my father the president of the kingdom. Now everybody in my family is following the petition’s progress online.”
Suyash Dixit has even designed a flag for the ‘Kingdom of Dixit’, and planted it at Bir Tawil