Life for the Biharis in Mirpur, a suburb of Dacca, is slowly returning to normal.?
Life for the Biharis in Mirpur, a suburb of Dacca, is slowly returning to normal. Most of the larger shops, banks and residential buildings still remain closed -- but in several parts of the Mirpur colony, the open markets are again open for business.
The Biharis -- several thousand of whom were detained in a search for former collaborators with the Pakistan. Government -- have sated to rebuild homes damaged during the war with Pakistan -- and small businesses are springing up once again.
Tension between the Bengali and non-Bengali sectors of the population has been a major problem facing the government of Bangladesh. And the Bengali troops remain vigilant in the area. Now, however, their activities at Mirpur appear to be confined to guarding trouble spots and checking all vehicles entering and leaving the suburb.
SYNOPSIS: A Bengali soldier on patrol at Mirpur, a suburb of Dacca -- and a stronghold of the Bihari Muslims.
Life here is still difficult. Three months after the war with Pakistan, the main banks and shops have yet to open. And Bengali troops are still looking for some of the Biharis said to have collaborated with Pakistani government troops.
But despite the frustrations, life is returning to normal. Houses badly damaged during the war are being re-built or repaired. And trading has begun again in the open markets. In the months after Bangladesh gained is independence, Mirpur was the scene of fighting and death. Several thousand men went to jail -- and their women, children and senior citizens were sent to other camps. As the evacuation went on, so to o did the search for arms and bodies. Both sides claimed the other stared the shooting -- although the Bengali troops were brought in to protect the Biharis from Bengali civilians seeking revenge.
The Red Cross continues its work, providing medical treatment for pregnant women, children and others. Many of the lives lost here were the result of malnutrition -- and Indian troops were forced to sue strong-arm measure to control the fight for food at distribution time. But epidemics of cholera and smallpox have been checked, with Biharis lining up every day for their injections. The Biharis -- a non-Bengali minority -- settled in former East Pakistan at the time of the Indo-Pakistan partition. Many of them still living a state of fear, believing that they must leave Bangladesh for their own safety.
And for young and old Biharis alike, the future is uncertain -- but not without some hopeful signs.