An In­dian ‘king’ of an African land

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - Yeshika.Bud­hwar@ times­group.com

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

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