The start of the monsoon rains in East Pakistan is making more desperate the plight of the victims of the emergency, many of whom are fleeing across the border into India.
The start of the monsoon rains in East Pakistan is making more desperate the plight of the victims of the emergency, many of whom are fleeing across the border into India. This film from Visnews cameraman Bill McConville at Kaliganj, near the East Pakistan rebels' provisional capital of Chuadanga, shows refugees crossing the border into India by means of the Ichhamati river, which is now swollen by the first monsoon rains.
It also shows refugees receiving food and help just over the border at Hasnabad on the Indian side, from Indian voluntary workers.
The monsoon has always been an important factor in the emergency, since it is said that West Pakistan forces will find it impossible to control the situation in East Pakistan in monsoon conditions.
For further coverage of the refugee situation, in the Khulna district and on the Ichhamati river, see our recent production 3929/71.
SYNOPSIS: At the village of Kaliganj, near the East Pakistan rebels' provisional capital of Chuadanga, this was the scene on Monday, with the fields flooded by the waters of the Ichhamati river, on the border with India. The rains made conditions difficult for the local people, many of whom were fleeing across the Ichhamati river into India, and they may also hamper West Pakistan forces in their bid to force unity on Pakistan. Controlling such a vast area under monsoon conditions will be very difficult.
Many of the refugees pouring into India, and receiving help at Indian voluntary relief centres, hope to return to East Pakistan after the monsoon rains, or when the fighting dies down. There have already been reports that the monsoon, which has come early this year, is beginning to cause difficulties for the West Pakistan forces. These people are suffering from both the war and the monsoon rains. They have few possessions, and are grateful for the drinking water and handfuls of grain that the Indians can give them. In monsoon conditions, flour and grains have to be carefully protected from the wet, and much of it is being damaged in war-affected ports like Chittagong. The food can never reach the staring people who need it, while unloading is hampered.
At the Ichhamati river crossing, there are pitiful scenes of overcrowding on the banks and in the boats as refugees strive to get across to India. Quite a number of refugees came to the river with no possessions at all, only the clothes they stood up in. Some were from near the border, others had travelled for as long as a week, often with small children. Many have come from Khulna district and Khulna port, claiming that Hindus have become the main target for attack there. The district has a big population of non-Bengali Moslems known as Biharis, and is considered a stronghold of the orthodox Moslem League. One spokesman among them claimed that West Pakistan troops were killing Hindus because of India's reaction to the East Pakistan crisis.