In parts of East Pakistan, the refugee flow into India has been reduced to a mere trickle.
In parts of East Pakistan, the refugee flow into India has been reduced to a mere trickle. The refugees claim there are two primary reasons for the reduction; the heavy monsoon rains, and increased harassment by the Pakistan Army.
The Ichhamati River, which forms part of the border, was crowded with boatloads of refugees until a week ago, but during the last three days (8-12 June) it has been almost deserted.
At Taki, a town on the Indian side of the border about 72 miles (108 kilometres) north-east of Calcutta, residents gathered on the banks of the Ichhamati on Friday (11 June) when they heard small-arms fire from the East Pakistan side. An hour or so later, a boat arrived, carrying a wounded guerrilla of the Bangla Desh movement's Liberation Army, known in Bengal as the Mukti Fouj (pronounced mook-tee forge). A spokesman for the guerrillas said while one group of guerrillas waited to blow up a bridge, their supporting group of about 15 men was ambushed by Pakistani soldiers. He said the guerrillas managed to fight their way out, killing 50 for the loss of one dead and six wounded of their own number. He did know whether they managed to blow up the bridge or not.
This film was shot by VISNEWS cameraman Prem Prakash and includes shots of the refugees and the wounded guerrillas arriving from the East Pakistan side of the river and later seen being helped to the nearby Basirhat hospital.
SYNOPSIS: The heavy monsoon rains have reduced the flow of East Pakistani refugees into India to a mere trickle compared with the influx over the last few months. On the Indian bank of the Ichhamati River however, refugees claim that the Pakistan army harassment is making crossings difficult.
In the town of Taki, north-east of Calcutta, local people watched a wounded guerrilla of the Mukti Fouj being brought ashore after a skirmish with Pakistan Army forces.
A spokesman for the Mukti Fouj claimed that a force supporting a sabotage team attempting to blow up a bridge had been ambushed by the Pakistan army. In the battle, he claimed 50 Pakistanis were killed for the loss of one dead and six wounded guerrillas.
There was a minor stampede when officials withdrew food ration cards from people who, they said, were not refugees but local townspeople exploiting the situation. But even the rains could not stop the influx of some refugees...who still walk towards the distant camps in the hope of food and shelter.
Thousands more are travelling to the camps every day. These refugees were lucky enough to be transported...others walk until they drop from hunger or disease.
Many of the people admire the Mukti Fouj guerrillas. Some of the wounded were taken to a hospital in the town of Basirhat -- about 60 miles north-east of Calcutta. One of the wounded men claimed to have killed six Pakistani soldiers and others gave varying reports of constant fighting near the border.